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Fake blind man caught driving
A 70-year-old Italian man had been claiming to be blind for 40 years in order to get an invalid's pension. He was caught when police stopped him in his car at a routine road check. When they checked his record, they noticed it listed him as being 100 percent blind. (Thanks, Joe)

Underwear on face fails to disguise
"A robbery suspect tried to hide his face with a pair of underwear but the disguise didn't fool witnesses."

Fleeing husband spotted in film
45-year-old shop owner Martino Garibaldi took £37,000 out of his family's savings and ran away with his mistress. "Unfortunately for Garibaldi an eagle-eyed friend happened to be watching the Italian comedy Natale in Crociera (Christmas on a Cruise) and saw Garibaldi and his mistress in the background during one of the scenes. His wife was informed and when she found out that the movie was filmed in the Dominican Republic she managed to trace him."
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 18, 2008
Comments (2)
Detectives in Sarpy County, Omaha are warning local stores of a new shoplifting technique being used by a group of women. The women enter a store, fill up a cart with items, and then walk out. If stopped, they claim that they're giving birth. KETV reports:

Detectives said that on Dec. 13, three women walked into the Bellevue Wal-Mart, filled a cart with items, then started to leave. Surveillance video shows a store officer stopped them at the door and asked for a receipt. That's when one of the women said she was going into labor, according to Detective Fran Gallo of the Bellevue Police Department. "All three were heavyset. The loss-prevention officer couldn't tell if this person was pregnant or not. She offered to call for a squad for her, but they said no," Gallo said. The women swore at the officer, then left the store with more than $1,000 in items, Gallo said.

Apparently they tried the same thing at a second Wal-Mart, but didn't get away with it there.

It reminds me of that Jane's Addiction video for "Been Caught Stealing". Though in the video a guy, pretending to be a woman, hides items in a fake belly. The Omaha women brazenly walked out the door with the stolen goods. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Birth/Babies, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 18, 2008
Comments (6)
The Patry Copyright blog has posted details of an interesting copyright case: United States v. Chalupnik. It doesn't, strictly speaking, have anything to do with hoaxes, except that it raises the question of whether there actually was a crime committed, or whether it's an example of a big corporation trying to invent a crime. Here are the facts, as summarized by William Patry:

defendant was an employee for the U.S. Postal Service. BMG Columbia House is a mail order operation selling CDs and DVDs by mail. Many of these discs are undeliverable. Rather than pay the postage to have them returned to it, BMG Columbia House instructed the Postal Service to throw them away. The Postal Service did throw them away. Defendant then retrieved them from the trash and sold them to area stores, netting $78,818. A surveillance camera showed defendant retrieving the items and he was arrested; he was originally charged with felony mail theft, but then pleaded guilty to misdemeanor copyright infringement. The trial court sentenced defendant to two years probation and ordered him to pay $78,818 to BMG in restitution. Chalupnik appealed.

So the guy took the CDs out of the trash and resold them, prompting BMG to complain that he had caused them lost sales. Does this mean that if I threw away a box full of my books, I could sue anyone who found them in the trash and sold them? That doesn't seem to make sense. After all, I threw them away, presumably forfeiting my ownership of them.

The court overturned the defendant's sentence on appeal -- but it sounds as if he still might face some other form of sentencing.

The complicating factor here is that he was a post office employee, and thus was obligated to honor the post office's promise to BMG that it would actually throw away the material.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Music
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2008
Comments (24)
Restaurant removes fake surveillance camera from bathroom
"A fake surveillance camera pointing into a bathroom stall of a Second Cup restaurant was taken down Monday after it sparked concerns from the chain's executives and the Quebec government. Second Cup franchisee Francois Turgeon recently installed the decoy camera in his downtown cafe hoping to ward off heroin users who reportedly left dirty needles in the men's bathroom."

Man complains that sex doll lost its moan
"Consumer officials in Romania have upheld a complaint from a man who said his inflatable doll had lost its moan... The man had also complained that the rubber doll deflated too quickly, local media said."

Masked robber forgets to keep mask on
Brian Waltermyer walked into a bank wearing a hood. "He handed a teller a note demanding money, and the teller told him to remove the hood. He did, giving the bank surveillance cameras a crystal-clear view of his face." He was arrested soon after.

Grandma hides cocaine in bra
Big Gary writes: "The only reason this is mildly interesting is it shows the Brassiere Brigade tradition is still alive in Florida."
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 06, 2008
Comments (2)
Last year the Daily Mail ran an April Fool's Day article in which it claimed that Brits would have to pay a "carbon offset" tax if they wanted to barbecue in their backyards:

IT IS one of the timeless rituals of the new globally-warmed great British summer: firing up the barbecue and slinging on a steak. But people who choose to burn charcoal may have to think twice as councils now have swingeing new powers to force homeowners to buy 'carbon offsets' before they light up or face a Pounds 50 fine. The measures, which have been approved by the Climate Change Unit of the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs, are likely to severely curtail the number of barbecues Britons enjoy this summer...

A spokesman for B&Q said last night that they were looking at producing new 'green' barbecues to cut down CO2 emissions. One idea is to harness the warmth created by rotting compost, but these would require a chef to start cooking days in advance. So-called 'friction barbecues' powered by a guest on a stationary exercise bike are also being examined.

Yesterday, in a case of an April Fool's Day joke almost becoming reality, the European Union announced that it was considering banning patio heaters in order to protect the environment:

Fiona Hall, a Liberal Democrat MEP, has led the calls for the ban, which is expected to be endorsed by the parliament in Brussels.
"Patio heaters are scandalous because they are burning fossil fuels in the open sky, so producing vast quantities of CO2 with very little heat benefit," she said.
But the proposal has been attacked by publicans, who say bars and pubs need the heaters for customers driven outside by smoking bans.

The two aren't exactly the same (barbecues vs. patio heaters), but pretty close. Here in Southern California we love our patio heaters. The slightest chill in the air prompts us to fire them up, so we can continue sitting outside. It would hurt to have to give them up.
Categories: April Fools Day, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 01, 2008
Comments (15)
A 14-year-old student at Killian Middle School in Lewisville picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his reading teacher, rubbed the gel on his hands, and then smelled it. According to the teacher, he "inhaled heavily."

The student said he sniffed it because it "smelled good." But the school authorities claimed he sniffed it because he was trying to get high. They gave him an in-school suspension, and then proceeded to file criminal charges against him. reports:

Joni Eddy, assistant police chief in Lewisville, said Friday that hand sanitizer has become a popular inhalant. "That is the latest thing to huff," she said.
She said officers felt they were acting properly when they pursued the case against Mr. Ortiz's son under a complex state statute governing volatile chemicals that could be abused.
"The charge said he was using the product other than its intended use," she said. "Huffing hand sanitizer is certainly using it for something other than its intended use."
Hand sanitizers usually contain a high percentage of ethyl alcohol, a flammable liquid used in a wide range of industrial products and alcoholic beverages.

Thankfully, common sense eventually prevailed and prosecutors dropped the charges. As far as I know, it's not possible to get high by "huffing hand sanitizer." Unless, perhaps, you were to do it to the point that it deprived you of enough oxygen. I'm not sure what strange rumors the police were believing when they pursued this case. The WFAA article includes a statement from the National Institute on Drug Abuse debunking the hand-sanitizer-huffing rumor:

Shirley Simson, a spokeswoman for the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington, said in an e-mail that the agency had no data about hand sanitizers being abused as inhalants. She noted, however, that there have been news reports of some people drinking hand sanitizers for their alcohol content.

It reminds me of the recent Jenkem scare, in which Florida police issued a bulletin warning that local kids were getting high by sniffing the fermenting gas from human sewage.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Mon Jan 28, 2008
Comments (22)
According to James Sroden, the popular Blue Man Group attacked him when he went to see their show in October 2006. He says they forced him on stage, circled him, held his neck and arms, forced his head back, and then inserted an "esophagus cam" down his throat, projecting an image of his throat onto a large screen.

Sroden says he subsequently bled from the nose, had nightmares, and lost fillings in his teeth.

The Blue Man Group's version of events is quite different. From

The Blue Man Group's Chicago general manager said the stunt is just an illusion.
"Essentially, we have a piece in the show where an actor holds a camera to an audience member's mouth, doesn't enter their mouth, and then we play a video," Kori Prior said. "We have been performing this show in this theater for 10 years and have never had this issue before."

So it seems that Sroden is expecting a jury to believe that the Blue Man Group's illusion is actually real. Maybe he's hoping the Blue Man Group will pay him something in order to avoid going to court. (Thanks, William)
Categories: Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Sat Jan 26, 2008
Comments (5)
Caught Lipsyncing
Amusing video on youtube of a guy caught lipsyncing. I like how he tries to pretend that nothing happened.

Live Frog in Lettuce
Yet another case of a family finding a live frog in their lettuce. The amazing thing is that instead of trying to sue someone, the family has adopted the frog as a pet. They call him "curious."

Fake Leg as Weapon
"Police said Donna Sturkie-Anthony took her elder sister's prosthetic leg and beat her with it."
Categories: Food, Law/Police/Crime, Music
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 25, 2008
Comments (4)
Hiding in plainview
A police officer agreed to escort a car containing a pregnant woman to the hospital only to find the car was stolen - and the woman wasn't pregnant.

An honest politician?
Ed Hamilton is running for the position of Kerr County treasurer. His campaign promise is that, if elected, he won't serve. He won't even take a paycheck. Sounds like the right man for the job.

More men opting for chest implants
At least, that's what the headline claims. The article itself gives the impression that the number of men who get pectoral implants is very small.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Law/Police/Crime, Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Jan 23, 2008
Comments (0)
Happy New Years everyone! My apologies for the absence of posts for the past week. I was on vacation, visiting family on the east coast and in Arizona.

One month ago I posted about a group of female criminals from the 1950s called the "Brassiere Brigade." They stole money from the counting room of a telephone company, where they worked, by smuggling rolls of quarters out in their bras.

I only discovered the story of these women by accident when I came across a reference to them in an old newspaper. I thought I had stumbled upon an incredibly obscure story, and it occurred to me that it was perfect material for a movie -- one of those cute "chick-flicks" that Hollywood churns out. I had visions of writing it up as a screenplay and making a fortune.

But my hopes were dashed when I recently saw the trailer for a movie called Mad Money that's coming out on Jan. 18. The movie (which stars Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, and Diane Keaton) is the story of three women who steal money from a Federal Reserve Bank, where they work, by smuggling the money out in their underwear. In other words, it's basically the story of the Brassiere Brigade in a different setting (a bank instead of a phone company). Somebody got to my idea first!!!

I'm not sure if Mad Money actually was inspired by the exploits of the Brassiere Brigade, though it's close enough not to make a difference. The Mad Money site doesn't make any mention of the Brassiere Brigade. The movie seems to be a remake of a 2001 British made-for-TV movie called Hot Money, about a group of British cleaning women who steal money from the Bank of England. The British movie claims to be based on a real-life incident, though it provides no specifics about that incident. Perhaps there was a group of female British criminals who copied the modus operandi of the American Brassiere Brigade. Hiding money in underwear may be a far more common method of theft than I realized.

Mad Money doesn't look very good, so I'm not going to bother seeing it in a theater. Perhaps I'll rent it on DVD. I think it would have been much better if it actually was the story of the Brassiere Brigade, set in Miami in the 1950s.
Categories: Entertainment, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Jan 03, 2008
Comments (14)
My 61 Memorable Games
A special updated edition of Bobby Fischer's book, "My 60 Memorable Games," is up for auction on eBay, and bidding has already reached $3,050. The New York Times Chess Blog wonders whether the book is real.

Giant Skeleton photo doing the rounds again
National Geographic has an article about the Giant Skeleton photo, which dates back to 2004. The article says it's now enjoying a revival. I'm even quoted, though I don't remember talking to National Geographic. However, it sounds like something I would say. It must have been a while ago that they talked to me. (Thanks, Joe)

BBC admits Lotto button is a fake
Viewers see a man press a red button to release the Lotto balls. But it turns out the button doesn't control anything at all. This was revealed when the guy hesitated before pressing the button, but the balls dropped into the spinning barrel anyway.

Private parking company issues fake tickets
"A private parking company will have to reimburse drivers who paid fake citations left on cars in free lots throughout the Bay Area... PCS employees left written notices that looked like government-issued tickets on cars that allegedly violated the posted parking rules or state laws." Wow. It's bad enough having real traffic cops issue tickets without a private company trying to get a piece of the action.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 18, 2007
Comments (2)
Sextuplet husband gets three years
Remember that couple who pretended they had sextuplets last year? The guy has now been sentenced to three years in prison for violating the terms of his probation. His wife is still at large.

Pregnant lawyer made up abduction
"pregnant Ohio attorney Karyn McConnell Hancock confessed Monday to fabricating a story about being kidnapped by three people at gunpoint in Toledo last week." I'm going to start keeping track of these fake abduction cases. There are so many of them!

Fake office assumed role of government
A fake government office in northern India was collecting taxes, providing civic services, and even issuing birth and death certificates. Sounds like a good scam. Some say there's also a fake government here in the States, installed in the White House -- but unlike the one in India, it just collects taxes and doesn't provide any civic services.

Fake Poo Crisis Hits UK
A global shortage of quality providers of fake poo has led to a crisis that has affected more than just the comedy market.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Gross, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 13, 2007
Comments (4)
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