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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Con Artists
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…
Is Surf Junky a Scam?
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 06, 2005
Surf Junky (www.surfjunky.com) is a service that supposedly lets you earn money simply by browsing the web. The description on its site of how it works isn't very clear, to say the least, but from what I can gather they make you have a browser window constantly open that flashes ads at you... a new one approximately every thirty seconds. They claim that they'll pay you about $0.45 for every hour that they sense you're actively browsing the web with this ad window flashing at you. Of course, it hasn't taken people long to figure out that theoretically you could leave the surf junky window open all day and be earning money while you do other stuff (like sleep). The…
Categories: Con Artists, Websites Comments (42)
The Hoax Paper Birds of Thailand
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Last week 100 million paper birds were airdropped in southern Thailand. The airdrop was supposed to be the Thai government's symbolic peace gesture towards the Muslim separatists who live there. Billionaire Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra personally signed one of the paper birds, promising that whoever found this autographed bird would win a university scholarship (sounds like he has ambitions to be a modern-day Willy Wonka). A few days later a young girl came forward saying that she had found the bird. Provincial authorities checked it out and said that it looked genuine. But alas, it now appears the bird was a hoax. Shinawatra has indicated that he might give her a free scholarship anyway. But nobody knows…
Categories: Con Artists, Places Comments (9)
Conman Makes Money Rain From Sky
Posted by The Curator on Fri Oct 29, 2004
Thanks to Big Gary for forwarding me this next story. A conman made hundreds of dollars by convincing residents of an Ethiopian town that he could make money literally rain down upon them from the sky. At first I thought, who could be stupid enough to believe that? But then I realized it's basically no different from any of the get-rich-quick schemes popular here in America: trade your way to riches in the stock market, work at home and earn big bucks, take this seminar and learn the secrets of financial success, etc...
Categories: Con Artists Comments (2)
Lost Pet Scam
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 20, 2004
Occasionally you see news stories like this one about lost cats who are found hundreds of miles from home, having got themselves locked into moving vans by accident. But watch out. If you lose your cat, then later get a call from movers who say they've found your pet in their van, it can be a scam. As the Crimes-of-Persuasion site details, it's known as the Catastrophic Lost Pet Scam. Those movers don't really have your pet. They're just con artists trying to get you to wire them 'gas money' supposedly to help them return your precious baby to its home. But in reality, Snuggles ain't coming home. At least, not with them. Once they get…
Categories: Animals, Con Artists Comments (3)
Stupid Counterfeiters
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 05, 2004
How not to run a counterfeit money scam. a) Buy merchandise at Wal-Mart with fake money. b) Return merchandise a few days later and ask for your money back. c) get your fake money handed back to you.
Lonely Hearts Scam
Posted by The Curator on Sat Sep 04, 2004
So out of the blue this girl from Russia sends you an email via Yahoo Personals. The two of you start corresponding. She sends you her picture... and she's really freakin' hot! Then she says she wants to call you. But she also insists that you give her your mailing address and full name. Why would she need that? So the question is: are you being set up to be scammed? If so, then what's the scam? That's the real-life question facing Johnny over at LiveJournal. I don't know exactly what the scam is, or even if there is one, though it sounds like one to me. Posting under the username 'hornswoggle' I theorized that Johnny could be…
Categories: Con Artists, Sex/Romance Comments (14)
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