Hoax Museum Blog Posts: June 2008

Money-Sniffing Scam — A man posing as a deputy stole nearly $1000 from an Ohio couple by telling them they had to hand over the money so that his dog could sniff it for drug residue. From AP News: the fake deputy knocked on the Waverly, Ohio, couple's motel room door last week. The man told the couple a drug raid just happened next door and a police dog needed to sniff all of their money. Kuzinsky says the couple handed over the money and the fake deputy got into a small gray car and drove off. Kuzinsky…
Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008.   Comments (1)

Horse at School — I'm not sure if this is a prank, or just a case of bizarre willfulness. Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut warned a father and daughter not to bring their horse to school. They brought it anyway, so the school has charged them with breach of peace. From nbc30.com: Police were called Friday morning when a Westport man and his daughter walked a horse onto the campus of Staples High School, police said. School officials became concerned when a large group of students gathered…
Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008.   Comments (6)

Panhandler Earns $50/hr — A Salt Lake City news station exposes a panhandling scam. Or, rather, one panhandler scammer -- a young woman who leaves her parents' house every morning to stand on a street corner and beg for money. She tells people she was kicked out by her boyfriend just a week before Christmas and she's trying to earn enough to buy a bus ticket back to Seattle: It reminded me of Alan Abel's long-running "School for Beggars" hoax, from the 1970s and 80s. He claimed to be running a school that…
Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008.   Comments (15)

Cell Phones Cook Popcorn — A youtube video purports to show popcorn popping when placed in between cell phones all ringing at once. Clearly fake. It's a new spin on the old joke about cooking an egg with two cell phones. The only question is how they got the popcorn to pop. My guess is there must be a heating element beneath the table.
Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008.   Comments (14)


Arboleda’s Assassination Exhibit — Last week 28-year-old artist Yazmany Arboleda rented an empty storefront across the street from the New York Times building near Times Square to house his art exhibit. He then posted the title of the exhibit in the window: "The Assassination of Hillary Clinton / The Assassination of Barack Obama." It didn't take long for the secret service to show up and haul him in for questioning. Arboleda pleaded innocence, insisting he was referring to character assassination (by the media), not…
Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008.   Comments (1)

High-Pressure Hijinks — What are the odds this scene is real? Not very good, I'd say. The photo is from 1923. I found it in a book by Mark Sloan titled Hoaxes, Humbugs, and Spectacles. Despite that title, most of the photos in the book are not fake. The majority show circus performers and publicity stunts. Sloan titled this photo "High-Pressure Hijinks." He provides a short caption: Perhaps this soldier needed a lift. Experimenting with water pressure outside his barracks, he discovered an ingenious…
Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2008.   Comments (16)

Fly Derrie-Air — Derrie-Air claims to be the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline. From its website: Welcome to Derrie-Air, the world's only carbon-neutral luxury airline, where you don't have to choose between living the high life and saving the planet. Nine out of ten scientists agree—we need to reduce our carbon emissions or perish from the face of the earth. Air travel is one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions and global warming. Derrie-Air will be the only airline that plants trees…
Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2008.   Comments (7)

Belief in the moon landing: An experiment — A science teacher posting on the Bad Astronomy forum describes an experiment in which he polled his students to find out how many of them believed humans had walked on the surface of the moon -- before and after watching the Fox TV documentary "Did We Land on the Moon?" I began by asking my students (9-12th graders taking earth/space honors) the simple question, "Do you believe that humans have walked on the surface of the Moon?". Initial results were 81.0% "Yes", 7.6% "No" and 11.4%…
Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2008.   Comments (11)

Diesel Trees — With the price of gas going through the roof, there's been a lot of interest in alternative fuel supplies. For instance, various schemes to use water as a fuel have been getting renewed interest. But a new idea (at least, new to me) is the Diesel Tree. This is a tree that directly produces diesel fuel. All you have to do is tap the tree (just as you would tap a maple tree for its syrup), then fill up your tank with the oil, and you're good to go. From treehugger.com: the Brazilian…
Posted: Fri Jun 06, 2008.   Comments (4)

High school prank gets pranked — Nyack High School seniors claim their prank got pranked. Their intended prank was to remove all the desks and chairs from the classrooms and line them up in the field behind the school in the shape of a giant "2008." The principal had given them permission to do this. But during the night someone rearranged the desks into the shape of a penis. From lohud.com: Senior Erin Cummings, 17, said about 100 seniors came to the school at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and worked for several hours arranging…
Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008.   Comments (7)

World’s Largest Fake Breasts — The Telegraph reports that Guinness World Records has awarded stripper Maxi Mounds the record for the "World's Largest Augmented Breasts." I gather this is a new category for Guinness, and it surprises me they would create it since they usually avoid awarding records for anything that might cause physical harm. For instance, they don't award a record for World's Largest Cat, because they're afraid people will overfeed their cats to gain the record. Nor do they award a record for sleep…
Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008.   Comments (26)

Woman discovers the guy she met online wasn’t really a Sonics star — Another case of an impostor is in the news. A woman in Somerville, Mass. thought she was dating Jeff Turner, a former basketball player for the Washington Seattle Sonics. Turns out she was actually dating an impostor named Ronnie Craven. Craven's cover was blown when the woman became suspicious, tracked down the real Jeff Turner, and called him. Craven admits to the hoax, but says he only did it to impress the woman. In other words, he claims he was only trying to benefit sexually, not…
Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008.   Comments (7)

How to break into a museum — This story is a great example of the truism that no security system can be better than the people operating it. Thieves broke into a museum at the University of British Columbia and stole gold artwork worth over $2 million. They got around the security system simply by calling the guards, pretending to be from the alarm company, and telling them to ignore any alarms that might go off that night. From cbc.ca: Four hours before the break-in on May 23, two or three key surveillance…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008.   Comments (4)

Your classmate has died—but not really — I've previously noted a few cases where extreme shock tactics were used to teach a lesson. (See Fake Attack at Elementary School and Fake Terrorism Drill.) The following case isn't as bad as those earlier examples, but it still comes across as creepy for officials to trick students into believing their classmate had died in order to teach a lesson about drunk driving. From signonsandiego.com: Many juniors and seniors were driven to tears – a few to near hysterics – May 26 when a…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008.   Comments (22)

Pukey sentimental hoax or real event? — Gill forwarded me the following email and wrote in the subject line, "pukey sentimental hoax (I hope it's not real)." Will you give this to my Daddy? Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen. Moving thru the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008.   Comments (37)

Mooning Mishap — Big Gary writes: "Don't we see this story about 2 or 3 times a year? Only the country and the broken object causing the injury change." From Yahoo! News: UTRECHT, Netherlands - Utrecht police say a 21-year-old Dutch man is recovering after a "mooning" that went horribly wrong. A police statement says the man and two others had run down a street in Utrecht with their pants pulled down in the back "for a joke." It says that at one point the 21-year-old "pushed his behind against the…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008.   Comments (5)

The Bus Stop to Nowhere — This is a little sad, but odd. There's a bus stop located outside the Benrath Senior Centre in Dusseldorf. People occasionally walk up to the stop and stand there, waiting for a bus, but a bus never comes. In fact, the stop is on no bus route. It's a faux bus stop, purposefully created by the local department of transportation as a lure designed to deceive Alzheimer's patients from the senior centre. From telegraph.co.uk: “It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel,…
Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008.   Comments (11)

Woman discovers husband isn’t a doctor — Tammi Parteet was worried since she hadn't heard from her husband. So she decided to call him at Piedmont Hospital, where he worked as a doctor. WSBTV.com relates what happened next: She called him on his Piedmont cell phone, the one he told her was for emergencies. A staff member picked up. "I said, 'I'm trying to locate my husband, Dr. Perteet.' And she said, 'Dr. who? We don't have a Dr. Perteet.' And she says, 'Are you talking about the guy that had this cell phone?' And I said…
Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2008.   Comments (9)

Boy Abducted by Ircenrraat — An email doing the rounds in Alaska tells of a boy who was abducted by "ircenrraat" -- which (from what I can gather) are the Alaskan equivalent of leprechauns. The email is written by Nick Andrew Jr., who says that he found the boy standing in the middle of a field. From Anchorage Daily News: The boy said he was "brought into" Pilcher Mountain, a site often associated with ircenrraat encounters. There, he was questioned and saw other "little beings." "He said he made contact with a…
Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2008.   Comments (4)

Unwinding and Rewinding Toilet Paper — An article about "tornado oddities" on Yahoo! News leads off with this one: As residents in Hugo begin to move on from last week's tornado, some say they noticed a few bizarre things amid all the damage. Jason Akins said the twister unwound a roll of toilet paper in his bathroom — draped it across the countertop, then rewound it in the sink. The toilet paper didn't even rip. "All I could say was, 'You have got to be kidding me,'" Akins recalled. 'You've gotta be kidding me' is my…
Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2008.   Comments (10)

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