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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Business/Finance
All ads, all the time — At Web Summit in Dublin, two social-media strategists started pitching a new startup called VelloBook, which they described as the "world's first ad-only social media network. Giving people the power to share ads." They also created a Twitter feed, @VelloBook. But after they started getting a lot of requests for meetings, they realized that they needed to make it clearer that this was a "fake startup" — a joke! I predict that it's a joke that will one day soon become reality. [independent.ie]
Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014.   Comments (0)

Marlboro Marijuana Cigarettes — The latest fake news story to go viral claims that, due to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, Philip Morris has decided to start selling Marlboro Marijuana Cigarettes, marketed under the brand name "Marlboro M". The fake news story was posted on the satire site "Abril Uno" on January 21st. From the article: Phillip Morris, the world’s biggest cigarette producer, announced today that they will join the marijuana legalization bandwagon and start producing marijuana…
Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2014.   Comments (0)

The Samsung Pays Apple in Nickels Rumor — In August 2012, a jury awarded Apple over $1 billion in damages in their patent infringement case against Samsung. This sparked a rumor that Samsung had gotten its own back against Apple by paying the fine entirely in nickels — sending 30 trucks full of nickels over to Apple's headquarters. A video of a bunch of delivery trucks driving down a city street was offered as confirmation of the rumor — although the trucks in the video weren't from Samsung. A picture also circulated showing…
Posted: Sat Nov 23, 2013.   Comments (2)

Are 10 percent of wall street workers psychopaths? — We recently got to see an example of how a bogus fact takes root and spreads — that fact being that 10 percent of wall street workers are clinical psychopaths. It started with a study titled "Corporate Psychopathy: Talking the Walk" published in the April 2010 issue of the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law. Its lead author was Robert Hare, a specialist in the study of psychopathy. Hare had the opportunity to study 203 corporate professionals participating in a management…
Posted: Wed May 30, 2012.   Comments (3)


Marl the Stock-Picking Robot — Accipiter already posted about this in the forum, but the story is odd enough that it deserves to be on the front page. Back in 2007, two teenage twins from North Tyneside, Alexander and Thomas Hunter, began selling a stock newsletter in which they recommended stocks supposedly selected by an AI robot named Marl. Investors could also pay to get advice through a variety of websites run by the twins, daytradingrobot.com, doublingstocks.com, and equitypromoter.com. Or would-be…
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012.   Comments (0)

Trojan Houses, or Mobile Homeless Homes — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Outraged homeless muppets to converge on Goldman Sachs NEW YORK, April 21, 2012 -- Homelessness is a great American tragedy. Our financial system and government have let us down and we, together, must take a stand to change the way the system works. With over 11 million homes underwater and millions in foreclosure, people are frightened, distressed and angry. Although not a cure, Mobile Homeless Homes (MHH) offers a temporary solution -- low cost alternative…
Posted: Sat Apr 21, 2012.   Comments (3)

Bank of America Declares Man Dead — If you're declared dead on twitter, it doesn't mean much anymore — especially if you're Justin Bieber. But if a major bank declares you dead, that can really screw up your finances if you happen to still be alive. This happened to Arthur Livingston (who lives, oddly enough, in a town called Prosperity). Bank of America reported him dead. Livingston only found this out when he tried to get a new mortgage. But no one would loan him money because he was supposed to be dead. It cost…
Posted: Wed Mar 14, 2012.   Comments (0)

Turning Yankee dirt into gold —
Posted: Wed Jan 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

$16 Muffins — The legend of Out-Of-Control Government Expenditures is alive and well. Back in the 1980s, reports of the US government paying $400 for a hammer and $600 for a toilet sparked outrage. And now, late last month, came the news that the Justice Department had paid $16 a piece for muffins at a 2009 conference. But just as the hammer and toilet weren't really as expensive as they seemed, it turns out that the price of the muffins was an artifact of accounting. The $16 included the entire…
Posted: Thu Oct 06, 2011.   Comments (2)

The Case of the Honest Trader — On Monday (Sep 26) an "independent stock trader" named Alessio Rastani appeared on an interview with the BBC to discuss the Eurozone debt crisis. As the interview progressed, it became apparent that Rastani was far more blunt and cynical than most people from the financial community are when talking in public. For instance, in response to the question, "What would make investors more confident?" he came out with this: I'm a trader. If I see an opportunity to make money, I go with that.…
Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2011.   Comments (2)

Reusing your hotel towels: sensible behavior or scam? — Jill Hunter Pellettieri writes in Slate.com about how she hates those notices you now find in all the hotels asking you to re-use your towels in order to "Save Our Planet." Like her, I find them to be disingenuous. The real beneficiaries are the hotels, not the environment, because the hotels save lots of money on laundry costs, and they don't bother to pass those cost-savings along to the customers. [slate.com]
Posted: Tue Apr 07, 2009.   Comments (24)

Worst April Fools? — An online brokerage, Zecco, pretended to give customers multi-million trading accounts on April 1st. Funny until customers began doing actual trades with the money. Lots of blogs were linking to this story, calling it the worst April Fool's ever. (I'm not sure about that. It's still not as bad as some on the official list.) But now the company is saying it was an accident, not a purposeful prank.
Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009.   Comments (0)

The AIG Bonuses — In response to the uproar over the millions of dollars in bonuses paid to the executives of AIG (you know, that company that would be bankrupt if not for the billions of dollars in loans it's taken from the US government), AIG management explains that it had no choice but to pay those bonuses because it was contractually obligated to do so. The Treasury Department, despite wagging its finger sternly at AIG, appears to accept that argument. On salon.com Glenn Greenwald details why…
Posted: Mon Mar 16, 2009.   Comments (10)

Forbes not being sold to the Russians — The business magazine Forbes "absolutely denies" a rumor that it's being bought by a Russian private equity firm, Onexim. The irony here is that it was Forbes, back in 1991, which published a hoax claiming that the Russian government, desperate for foreign currency, was selling the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin to the highest bidder. Times and fortunes have changed. It appears now the shoe is on the other foot.
Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008.   Comments (0)

Rumormongering Traders — Britain's Financial Services Authority has found a new group to blame for the financial crisis: naive traders spreading rumors. It cites one example of a trader who "spread a piece of 'hot news' to 10 to 12 of his friends over a messaging system without making clear that it was a rumour. One of his contacts then did not hesitate to spread the message on to 150 of his contacts." To counter the problem, the FSA is urging companies to adopt policies "on how to deal with rumours and…
Posted: Wed Nov 19, 2008.   Comments (2)

Is Bank of America cancelling the majority of its customers’ credit cards? — This rumor is going around: BoA to close credit cards for approximately 60% of customers? "I work in Credit Department at BoA (Senior Level Credit Analysist Boa Bldg 3rd fl, Char, NC). We just received memo indicating that all BoA credit cards are being closed as of 10/1. Credit score and income do not matter, all accounts are closed as of 10/1." Executive VP Bank of America "This is true, but not as bad as he/she says. We are closing accounts, but only ones with credit scores under…
Posted: Mon Sep 29, 2008.   Comments (29)

Weird Fragrances — I stumbled across this site, weirdfragrances.com (I'm not linking directly to them, so I won't boost their google rank), that promises to send you a free sample of cologne. In return you simply provide them with your email and mailing address, and promise to later answer a few questions about the fragrance. You can choose from a variety of offbeat scents such as Grease Monkey, Burning Rubber, or Ash Tray. Is it a legit offer? I would guess not. First, it strikes me as odd that the…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (2)

It’s Right-Sizing, not Down-Sizing — Media Agency Carat recently decided to lay off some of its employees. PowerPoint and Word documents somehow leaked out detailing how management planned to inform employees and clients of the decision. They offer an example of corporate b.s. at its finest. Details include: • The agency wasn't going to be down-sizing. Instead, the documents repeatedly described the moves as a "right-sizing" of the agency. • Clients were to be informed of the "staffing change" with this script: "Mary…
Posted: Thu Sep 11, 2008.   Comments (11)

Thieves Steal Fake Money — Thieves used a hammer to break open a plexiglass box being used as a Drop-A-Note donation box in the Kentucky Theatre's lobby, and they stole the money inside. Unfortunately for the thieves, the money they took was fake. From kentucky.com: "It's sad when idiots can't tell fake money from the real thing," said Steve Brown, president of Kentucky's Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Project, a group dedicated to restoring a Wurlitzer organ and returning it to the Kentucky. Proceeds from the…
Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008.   Comments (1)

Santa Claus Currency — The Daily Record reports on a stupid counterfeit scheme that almost worked: A FORGER convinced a cashier a £20 note was real - despite Santa Claus and his reindeer being on it. Stacey Rice's self-made Santa Christmas Bank note promised to pay the bearer nothing and listed Santa as the bank's "chief operating officer" with his address as the North Pole. But Rice, 27, was still able to pass it off as genuine in an "astonishing" scam, a court heard. She duped a gullible cashier at a gym…
Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008.   Comments (7)

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