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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Con Artists
Magic Cheese
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jul 21, 2006
Status: Ponzi Scheme Chilean police have arrested a pair of con artists who had constructed an elaborate pyramid scheme based on the sale of "magic cheese". OhMyNews reports: The fraud consisted in selling people packs of "Yo Flex," a powder that, she claimed, would ferment milk into a special cheese. Giselle said that this "Magic Cheese" was the latest fashion in France, where women used it as a skin cosmetic, and which in Africa was used as a food supplement... In Chile, a pack of Yo Flex sold for US$500, but chemical analysis determined that the powder was a dairy…
Categories: Con Artists, Food Comments (16)
Auto Dealer Scams
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jul 19, 2006
Status: Useful stuff to know if you're buying a car Florida businessman Earl Stewart has started a blog, Earl Stewart On Cars, that's full of useful insights about the auto industry. Some of his observations about auto dealer scams and deceptive sales tactics are particularly interesting. Here's a few of them: • The “Big Sale Event”. If you look in today’s newspaper, you will find that most car dealers in your area are having a sale of some kind. It may be because of a current holiday, “too large an inventory” of cars, to “reduce their taxes”, “the manager is out…
BioPerformance Goes to Court
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 02, 2006
Status: Pyramid scheme unravels Thanks to Joe for sending along some links about the ongoing downfall of BioPerformance, Inc. (discussed in the hoax forum in this thread about fuel additives). To summarize briefly: BioPerformance seems to be a classic case of a pyramid scheme. The people at the top of the pyramid were convincing suckers to pay for the privilege of selling little green pills that supposedly, when placed in a car's gas tank, yielded "vast improvements in mileage, performance and emissions". What BioPerformance wasn't telling anyone was that the pills were simply mothballs that didn't improve mileage and could actually ruin a car's engine. (Though oddly enough, according to the Dallas Observer…
Breast Exam Scam
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 19, 2006
Status: News 76-year-old William Winikoff of Coconut Creek, Florida has been charged with lewd and lascivious conduct for posing as a doctor and offering women free breast exams. Remarkably, he duped at least two women with this scam: Carrying a black “doctor’s” bag, investigators claim Winnikoff walked up to a apartment building and told a 36-year-old woman, that he was in the neighborhood offering free breast exams. According to police, the woman let Winikoff into her apartment and the phony doctor began the exam, touching first her breasts, and then, her genitals. The woman quickly realized that Winikoff was not a real doctor and she called 911, but the fake doctor had already…
Boston Couple Eats Glass
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 17, 2006
Status: Insurance Scam When I was in elementary school, I often heard a rumor that if you ate chalk you could fake the symptoms of being sick, and thus not have to go to school. I never tried it, but this couple seems to have taken the same idea and advanced it a step further: A couple has been charged with filing fraudulent insurance claims that said they had eaten glass found in their food at restaurants, hotels and grocery stores, federal prosecutors said... The couple used aliases, false Social Security numbers and identity cards, and in some cases, had eaten glass intentionally to support their insurance claims, prosecutors said. The glass did not…
Categories: Con Artists, Food Comments (2)
The Musuem of Hoaxes
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 17, 2006
Status: Typosquatter My wife just discovered this. If you misspell museumofhoaxes.com by switching he 'e' and the 'u' in museum (a very easy mistake to make), you'll arrive at The Musuem of Hoaxes, which contains links to info about museums. It's obviously a site created by a spammer hoping to profit off of people who are trying to get to the Museum of Hoaxes, but who aren't great spellers. I probably shouldn't link to this alternative version of the Museum (I'm only sending more traffic to the spammer), but I'm kind of flattered that someone thought it was worth their time to create this. According to Larry Adams, author of Fraud In Other Words, this…
Categories: Con Artists, Websites Comments (13)
Mermaids and Bull Genitals Used to Find Missing Car
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 22, 2006
Status: Scam This leaves me at a complete loss for words. It's amazing: HARARE, Zimbabwe - A bogus traditional healer who persuaded a businesswoman to hire "mermaids" and accommodate them in a Harare hotel to help find a stolen car was convicted of theft by false pretenses, court officials said Tuesday... In Zimbabwe, where tribal superstition is deeply entrenched, prosecutors said Chizema persuaded Margaret Mapfumo to pay 200 million Zimbabwe dollars (about $30,000) to hire mermaids, feed and accommodate them in a Harare hotel, buy power generators for a floodlit lakeside ceremony and invoke ancestral spirits to find the missing car. Some of the money was to be used to buy a…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (11)
Fake Russian Music Degrees
Posted by The Curator on Mon Mar 20, 2006
Status: Fraud Korean investigators have uncovered a case of widespread degree fraud involving over 120 people who bought fake Russian music degrees from a woman "identified as Do": Do advertised her institute as a Korean campus of the Russian university and the Russian college dean came here along with a couple of other Russian professors for about 10 days a year to provide lessons,'' said a prosecutor... Prosecutors said that the fake degree holders registered their degrees at the Korea Research Foundation (KRF) and some of them worked as lecturers at local universities, trying to create an academic clique. This strikes me as odd as I would never have picked…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (11)
Thames Whale Watering Can on eBay
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 25, 2006
Status: Beware of fakes This is just pathetic: Opportunists have tried to capitalise on the hysteria surrounding the Thames whale by putting a bogus watering-can up for sale on eBay, with a starting price tag of £1,924. The unidentified owner insisted the item was used in the attempted rescue of the 19ft northern bottle-nosed female whale to keep her moist and comfortable. But the fake sale outraged the British Divers Marine Life Rescue, who spent 36 hours and £100,000 trying to save the sea mammal's life and who were selling their own watering-can online. Here's the real watering can for sale. Bidding is currently up to £99,701.25. (I hope…
Categories: Con Artists, eBay Comments (5)
The GTC Group Billion Dollar Trust
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jan 17, 2006
Status: Scam Here's an offer that has scam written all over it. The GTC Group (I'm kind of reluctant to link to their website, on the off chance that I'll help send a victim their way, but here it is) claims that if you agree to establish a trading account in their name (no money or fees required!), they will pay you, and 5000 other lucky volunteers, $24,000. They're circulating this claim via email. Here's how they explain the deal on their website: Our client is a family trust with $1B to invest. We recently presented them with an investment opportunity to make a return of 18% without risk. Unfortunately, this opportunity involves the…
Categories: Con Artists, Email Hoaxes Comments (23)
Nigerian Curse Scam
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 16, 2006
Status: Scam According to the Arab News, the Nigerian bank scam has taken on a new twist. The scammers no longer tell you that they want to transfer $30 million into your bank account, or that you've won the European lottery. Now they inform you that you've been cursed, and you need to pay up to have the curse lifted. They bypass email and phone you directly to tell you this: Abdul Rahman, sociology professor at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University, said he received one of these calls from an Arabic speaker who informed him that he had been cursed by a colleague. The caller then claimed that he could neutralize the evil spell…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (7)
Counterfeit Money Clogs Toilet
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 08, 2006
Status: Stupid Criminals A Colorado couple, realizing the police were onto their counterfeiting operation, tried to get rid of the incriminating evidence by flushing it all down the toilet. The results were predictable: There's dirty money associated with crime, then there's dirty money. Investigators encountered the latter on Thursday, when they discovered a rental duplex that had flooded with sewage when the tenants flushed at least $10,000 in suspected counterfeit money down a toilet, crippling the duplex's plumbing system... By the time police arrived at the duplex Thursday, standing water and sewage covered its floors and the toilets weren't functional. Detectives said Marquez and Valdez had been relieving themselves in plastic shopping bags for…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (3)
$25 an Hour, Anyone Hired
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 08, 2006
Status: Probably a Ponzi Scheme Cranky Media Guy (aka Bob Pagani) noticed this story in the HawkEye about a job offer that sounds an awful lot like a Ponzi Scheme. Terrie Brown, who owns a limousine business in Burlington, Iowa, is offering to hire absolutely anyone at the rate of $25 an hour. Here's the part of her offer that sounds like a scam: The hiring process includes filling out an application and then paying a $10 processing fee, according to Brown. Everyone who fills out an application and pays the $10 fee receives a time card and is hired on the spot, she said. In fact, she added, anyone…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (2)
Plymouth Rock Pieces on eBay
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 28, 2005
Status: Scam According to legend, Plymouth Rock was the first thing the pilgrims set foot upon when they landed in Massachusetts. I think that the rock itself is now on display in Plymouth. But United Press International reports that pieces of the Rock are popping up on eBay where they're fetching as much as $900. The catch is that there's absolutely no way to verify that these really are pieces of the original Plymouth Rock. A lot of people did carve off chunks of Plymouth Rock during the 18th and 19th centuries, but there's no way to differentiate a real piece of Plymouth Rock from a fake piece.
Categories: Con Artists, eBay, History Comments (13)
Fake Cavities
Posted by The Curator on Thu Nov 10, 2005
Status: Scary scam An Indiana dentist has been charged with diagnosing patients with cavities that didn't exist. This is the kind of thing that feeds the popular paranoia about dentists: The attorney general's office said Dunlap diagnosed three patients with cavities, but the patients sought second opinions and were found to be cavity-free. State officials said Dunlap diagnosed a child with 10 cavities in June, but another dentist found that the child did not have any cavities. A similar complaint was filed by a patient in May 2004, said Staci Schneider, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office. Personally, I've never had a cavity. But one time a dental assistant cleaning…
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