The Museum of Hoaxes
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Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
The Nazi Air Marker Hoax, 1942
The Great New York Zoo Escape Hoax, 1874
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
BMW's April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
Actress who claimed she was kidnapped by puritans, 1950
Jennifer Love Hewitt's Disappearing Breasts
Sober Sue, the woman who never smiled, 1907
Quick Links: Megan Meier, fake lawyer, etc.
I'm on the road up to Lake Tahoe for Thanksgiving, but here's a few quick links I've been meaning to post.

Online hoax leads to girl's suicide
The case of Megan Meier is attracting lots of attention, both online and offline. Megan believed that a young guy on MySpace was interested in her, but when Josh started to send her nasty messages, she committed suicide. Later it was discovered that "Josh" was a fake alias created by adults in Megan's neighborhood. A bizarre case, and one that underlines how important it is for kids to learn to be skeptical about information (and people) they find online.

Man Accused of Posing as a Lawyer
Cranky Media Guy writes, "I love the lawyer's "explanations" of his client's behavior."

Belly Dancer Indicted Over Fake Degree
"A high-profile belly dancer has been indicted for allegedly fabricating her university diploma, a prosecution official said Tuesday in the latest fake-degree scandal to hit education-obsessed South Korea." Since when has it become important for belly dancers to have advanced degrees?

Let's Marry Before Hanging Up
The latest prank from Pakistan: "The latest spin for the emergency helpline (Rescue 15) operators is prank calls from girls, who first report a ‘crime’ and then ask operators to marry them over the telephone." What are kids going to dream up next?
Categories: Death, Law/Police/Crime, Pranks
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 21, 2007
Comments (25)
Hey, CMG - it's a lawyer's job to get their client off. (Pun not intended.) Juries have been known to buy the stupidest of reasons to acquit someone. Maybe this will work.

On the Megan Meier case, I was shocked that the authorities didn't consider driving someone to suicide a crime.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  03:29 PM
Christopher - regarding Megan...I was ESPECIALLY shocked b/c it was ADULTS who tormented her. I mean, she's 13!! It's crazy stuff, for sure.

My sister is trained to belly dance. But no one has ever asked her for a degree. Just how long her training was & who she trained with.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  05:50 PM
Am I the only one who noticed that she had used her fake degree, not for belly dancing, but for teaching at a university?
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  06:39 PM
Oh, I know that lawyers are required to make the best possible case for their clients, but the WAY the lawyer defended his guy here made me laugh.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Nov 21, 2007  at  07:40 PM
I just started wondering, what would those girls do if someone said "Yes" to their proposal of marriage? And tried to follow up on it.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Thu Nov 22, 2007  at  12:25 PM
Maybe Brady thought he was in an episode of Law and Order
Posted by Nona  in  London  on  Fri Nov 23, 2007  at  07:41 AM
I hope that sort of defence takes off.
"Your honour, my client merely wished to ascertain the time, but when he accosted the witness in the alley, the witness appeared to assume he was a mugger, and my client felt that it would have been rude to correct him, even when the witness handed over his wallet..."
Posted by cthelmax  on  Sat Nov 24, 2007  at  11:18 AM
Lori Drew is clearly a psychopath.

But more disturbing than that are the actions of authorities: If it had been an adult MALE that "carried on" in a sexually explicit way with a 13 year old girl (even if it WERE for the purposes of revenge for his teen daughter) he'd be locked up as a pedophile.

Second, there are al-READY laws on the books that cover this type of harassment. For chrissake: just implement them!

What is particularly chilling to me, is that Lori Drew knew that the victim was known to be suicidal in the past. That means that her statement to her that the "world would be better off without you" or whatever it was... is even MORE chilling: it means she was TRYING to steer this girl to suicide. It means she had a desire to push it in that direction, and did so.

Reminds me of Charles Manson. He never "technically" put his own hands upon his victims either, but he "made it happen" by manipulating people, I mean that's the premise upon which he was convicted: that he had INCITED it.

Same thing here. Lori Drew incited this suicide and should be just as responsible as Manson was when he incited those murders---and she should also be treated just like any other adult who engages in online relationships of a sexual nature with under-aged children.
Posted by Sophia  on  Sun Nov 25, 2007  at  04:35 PM
About Megan - grown-ups are always saying 'kids are cruel, kids are out of control, kids are bullies' - and then they go and behave like this! What kind of example is that setting?

And aren't there laws abotu inciting someone to suicide? Or harrassment? or something? For heavens sake, if she'd sent a nasty email to George Bush they'd soon find something to charge her under!
Posted by Nona  in  London  on  Mon Nov 26, 2007  at  07:45 AM
About Megan, I think the story is untrue as being reported.
Posted by Joe  on  Mon Nov 26, 2007  at  06:51 PM
What's untrue about Megan's story, Joe?

Speaking as someone with similar psychiatric problems myself, and having come very close to losing my life by my own hand, I can say that someone in that state of mind can be pushed off the cliff VERY easily, and from the sounds of it from the other posters, that's exactly what she was doing. What kind of adult does that to a KID, that you know has problems??

I hope she gets what's coming to her, this shouldn't go unpunished. And may she burn in hell for pushing that poor kid towards suicide.
Posted by Josh  in  Texas  on  Mon Nov 26, 2007  at  09:03 PM
1) The facts don't add up. People don't commit suicide on the spur of the moment.

2) The report states that the father reported an message that was missing later. That means he deleted it since messages on MySpace don't just vanish.

3) The facts are too convenient; at the very least they sound embellished for dramatic effect. At most, the entire story was made up.

4) I could find only one source for the story--again, and indication of urban legend.

5) The notion that another person made someone else commit suicide through insults is absurd. All of use were teenagers once and what Megan allegedly was told is extremely mild as far as teenage behavior goes. There is no way this would cause someone to commit suicide, especially without other revealing behavior.

I believe this story is entirely made up or heavily embellished. One possibility is that the death was accidental, but the parents, especially the father, constructed this fantastical story for his own reasons, perhaps guilt.
Posted by Joe  on  Wed Nov 28, 2007  at  10:27 PM
1) Yes they do. Quite often, in fact.

2) Again, yes they do. Private messages are automatically deleted after a certain amount of time (maybe a month?)

3) What? I'm sorry, the facts support the claim so they're obviously made up?

4) Suicides don't tend to make national news. This one might have at the time because of the MySpace connection, but the family didn't go public until a year later. Old news by then.

5) Teenagers kill themselves in alarming numbers, often over less trivial matters than this. Ask anyone who counsels teenagers.

None of this of course argues that the story is true, but your interpretation of it just doesn't hold water.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  10:11 AM
I have to agree with Charybdis. Generalizing about something as individual as suicide, which is exactly what you did, Joe, did with your "People don't commit suicide on the spur of the moment" comment, just isn't logical. People commit suicide for all kinds of reasons -- some spur-of-the-moment, some after deep and careful thought, some because they believe Satan told them to, some because they believe they are dying from an incurable disease...

Your hasty generalizations just don't hold water. I wouldn't commit suicide because a boy was mean to me, you presumably wouldn't, but that doesn't mean this girl didn't. As Charybdis pointed out, that doesn't mean the story is true, but if it's not, it won't be because teenagers don't kill themselves over relatively trivial (to the adult mind) matters.

It was only 10 years ago that 39 people committed suicide because they believed that was the way to get to the Mother Ship flying behind the Hale-Bopp comet. And yet you doubt that a troubled teenager might kill herself because she believed the boy she cared for didn't care for her? Puh-lease.
Posted by Kathleen  in  Indiana, USA  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  01:24 PM
Do you people really believe that an otherwise healthy 14 year old would commit suicide because she found out a boy didn't care for her? Good God, you're gullible. There always will be a history.

And the father claims to have seen A message supporting his version of events and that message can't be found, but others can? Hello, there is no other explanation except that he's lying--it may be an innocent lie, but I suspect it removes some of the guilt from the accused mother.

Also note that the police only learned about the incident because of the parents trashed a foosball table. Doesn't anyone else see the parents as total assholes then? Seriously, people, if your child died for any reason and you believed another person was partly or fully culpable, wouldn't you go to the police immediately?

I still believe the story AS REPORTED is a hoax. One sign is that no reporters have actually done a follow up. This entire story is based on a single story printed in a local newspaper.

(My own theory--the impersonation and suicide were entirely unconnected. The connection is being made by a reporter for dramatic effect and by the parents to absolve their guilt [this does NOT mean they are guilty of anything, but relatives and friends of suicide victims often feel guilt, especially when they recognize danger signals in hindsight, and often look for complicated reasons for the victim's actions.])
Posted by Joe  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  06:08 PM
Joe, I think you have misread the story. I just reread the ABC News article and saw that the authorities had not filed criminal charges a year after the incident. It does not say that the police first heard of it a year after her death. There is nothing in the news report that says that the police became involved only after the parents destroyed the foosball table. And it does say that Megan suffered from low self-esteem and depression, I thought I had read that she had tried suicide before but I couldn'd find the statement in the report this time. I've read the story elsewhere and it may have been reported there.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  07:05 PM
1) The facts don't add up. People don't commit suicide on the spur of the moment.
---------
Not true. I can tell you from personal experience, both of my suicide attempts were "spur of the moment", in a time where I was feeling exteme anguish. Sure, some people put time and thought into it, but often it actually is "spur of the moment". Sorry, but you seem to have alot of misinformation on that point.
----------

2) The report states that the father reported an message that was missing later. That means he deleted it since messages on MySpace don't just vanish.
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Are you referring to a message the father said was SENT by Megan, or one Megan RECIEVED? Myspace automatically deletes sent messages after a few days, like 14 I belive.
----------

3) The facts are too convenient; at the very least they sound embellished for dramatic effect. At most, the entire story was made up.
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The facts are too convenient?? I don't understand what you mean, can you be more specific on exactly what you're reffering to?
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4) I could find only one source for the story--again, and indication of urban legend.
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One source? I've seen it reported many different places...Yahoo, MSN, Fox News...
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5) The notion that another person made someone else commit suicide through insults is absurd. All of use were teenagers once and what Megan allegedly was told is extremely mild as far as teenage behavior goes. There is no way this would cause someone to commit suicide, especially without other revealing behavior.
-----------
Apperently, (from what I've read), she had a history of depression. To say that "there is no way this would cause someone to commit suicide" is, I'm sad to say, a very pompous and ignorant statement. As I said before, when you're already having problems with depression and aren't coping well with things, all it can take is a little shove to push them too far.

I'm by no means an expert, but having experienced it firsthand myself and having had contact with many people in similar situations, I feel I know what I'm talking about.
Posted by Josh  in  Texas  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  07:16 PM
"Do you people really believe that an otherwise healthy 14 year old would commit suicide because she found out a boy didn't care for her?"
----------------

I'm an otherwise healthy 25 year old man. It affects many people, of many ages.
Posted by Josh  in  Texas  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  07:18 PM
And part of the reason I tried was because I felt people didn't care for me.

So uh.....yeah man, it's definately possible, and probable.
Mental instability can be hard to grasp if you've never had experience with it.
Posted by Josh  in  Texas  on  Thu Nov 29, 2007  at  07:29 PM
From Joe: >>Do you people really believe that an otherwise healthy 14 year old would commit suicide because she found out a boy didn't care for her? Good God, you're gullible. There always will be a history.<<

Gullible? No. But since we are making judgments here, let me say that you are guilty of illogic and of theorizing about something you apparently don't know very much about. You haven't even read the article very closely.

First, where does it say she was "otherwise healthy"? I don't know if she'd attempted suicide before (I can't remember if the article mentioned it or not), but the article talks about "low self-esteem" and so on. So maybe not so "healthy." So if it's true -- and I'm not saying that it is -- it didn't come out of nowhere.

The point, Joe, is not that the story is true -- I don't know. The point is that your reasons for believing it false, or at least the reasons you have given in this thread, just don't hold water.

Not everybody who commits suicide has tried it before or even talked about it before -- everybody's got to have a first time, and some people succeed their first try. Not everybody who commits suicide has a history of severe mental illness. Not everybody who commits suicide does so for reasons that make sense to me or to you or to anybody else who isn't afflicted the same way.
Posted by Kathleen  in  Indiana, USA  on  Fri Nov 30, 2007  at  12:22 AM
Sorry to double-post, but the chances that this story is a hoax have dwindled to around zero for me. Here's a link to a story in the online version of Editor & Publisher magazine (which covers the newspaper industry) about the case:
http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003678751

The headline -- remember that this is in a publication that covers the newspaper industry -- is "Missouri Weeklies That Broke 'MySpace Suicide' Story Still Won't Name Alleged 'Cyberbully'"

According to E&P, the story has run all over the place, particular in papers in the St. Louis area, and the E&P article lists many of those papers. So it certainly doesn't look to me as though it could be a hoax unless E&P is a lot more careless than it generally is.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Fri Nov 30, 2007  at  10:26 AM
Kathleen said: <"I don't know if she'd attempted suicide before (I can't remember if the article mentioned it or not), but the article talks about "low self-esteem" and so on.">


I remember reading somewhere (sorry I don't remember where to cite) that Megan had had at least one suicide attempt in the past, and so "the woman didn't feel so bad since she'd tried it before."
Wow.

But yeah, sorry if I'm coming across as rude, but having been ostracized by my own family for my problems, it just irks me when people spout off and the hows and whys of suicide and attempts when they are in fact somewhat ignorant of the subject (that is NOT meant as a insult, BTW). Experiencing it though, I have a more unique insight to what goes through your mind and can trigger those feelings of worthless, etc.

My family was shocked the first time I tried (and I'd even contemplated it twice in my life before that), they didn't know all the inner turmoil I had inside because I've "faked" it for so many years, when I really never felt good about myself. I kept my depression inside until it got to the point I couldn't anymore.
So, even if she HADN'T tried in the past, she could still have been pushed to it by someone. Hell, my first one was after talking to my Dad, and that contributed to it.

So I see nothing un-realistic at all with the story....I just find it horrible that a grown woman would stoop so low with such a tragic result.
Posted by Josh  in  Texas  on  Fri Nov 30, 2007  at  07:32 PM
Josh: >So I see nothing un-realistic at all with the story....I just find it horrible that a grown woman would stoop so low with such a tragic result.<<

Oh, I agree completely. I think this is actually the aspect that makes some people doubt if the story is true. I mean, grown-ups are supposed to act more grown up than teenagers, and even if it didn't result in suicide, why oh why would a grown woman want to make a teenage girl feel like crap? She was a teenager once herself -- had she just forgotten what it's like or what? It's just a horrible little story.
Posted by Kathleen  on  Sat Dec 01, 2007  at  08:10 PM
Agreed. It's just cruel, and had a an impact that can never be made right again. So sad. That girl's family is now grieving and will have to live out the rest of their lives without their daughter because of some some adult woman's pathetic childishness and sick idea of a "joke". (and I use that term VERY loosely)
Posted by Josh  in  Texas  on  Tue Dec 04, 2007  at  09:48 PM
I just found a follow-up news story. It's headlined "Feds Probe Internet Suicide," and the jist is that a federal grand jury has issued a subpoena to MySpace.com in a probe stemming from the Megan's suicide. Federal prosecutors, according to the article I found, are considering charging a mother in the girl's neighborhood with defrauding MySpace by creating a false account that she, her daughter and a teenage employee used to fool 13-year-old Megan Meier into believing she was communicating with a 16-year-old boy. Here's a link in case you're interested, but the article I found actually quotes the LA Times, so you might find something there, too: http://wibc.com/news/article.aspx?id=1316331
Posted by Kathleen  in  Indiana, USA  on  Wed Jan 09, 2008  at  03:08 PM
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