The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
   
The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Con Artists
A Disposition to Be Rich, by Geoffrey Ward — A new book to add to my reading list: A Disposition to Be Rich csmonitor.com Geoffrey Ward’s cagily titled book, A Disposition to Be Rich, about his great grandfather isn’t so much written as lived in. In colorful and remarkable detail it chronicles the brazen exploits of Ferdinand Ward, “the best-hated man in the United States” and the pre-eminent Ponzi schemer of the Reconstruction Era. Not only did Ferd swindle former President Ulysses S. Grant out of millions in today’s…
Posted: Wed May 09, 2012.   Comments (0)

Fairy Kidnappings and Fairy Shysters — Fairies have a pretty good public image. They're widely regarded as good creatures, since they're small, delicate, and magical. But in European folklore, they were often considered quite malevolent. The wikipedia article on fairies notes the belief in fairy kidnapping: Any form of sudden death might stem from a fairy kidnapping, with the apparent corpse being a wooden stand-in with the appearance of the kidnapped person. Consumption (tuberculosis) was sometimes blamed on the fairies…
Posted: Fri May 04, 2012.   Comments (1)

Carlingford University — Kenneth ShongI think I'll add a degree from Carlingford University to my resume. I'll list it alongside my degree in Loch Ness Monster studies from Bigfoot U. Carlingford was a fake university -- a diploma mill -- created by con artist Kenneth Shong, while he was in prison on forgery charges. He was getting his fellow inmates to enroll there, having convinced them it was real. Though one inmate became suspicious of "'poor business practices and unresponsiveness' in relation to the…
Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2012.   Comments (2)

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


Fake Cocaine — On June 4 Steven Decker of Muscatine, Iowa sold a white powder to an undercover agent. He said it was cocaine, but it wasn't. It was fake cocaine. In the eyes of the law, this doesn't let him off the hook. He's being charged with "delivery of a simulated controlled substance" and is looking at up to ten years in prison and $50,000 in fines. I'm sure Decker is not exactly a boy-scout, but being charged for selling fake cocaine is a curious concept. Added irony: he was selling a…
Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008.   Comments (10)

Don’t buy diamonds in a Wal-Mart parking lot — Here's one for the "If you're this stupid, you deserve to be conned" file: The victim encounters two people in a Wal-Mart parking lot who are engaging in a transaction involving a diamond. The buyer (a man) offers the seller (a woman) $20,000 for the diamond. A normal person would think, "This is an odd location to be having this kind of transaction." Instead, the victim asks if she can buy a diamond also, and gets $1900 from the bank to pay for it. Surprise! She later discovers the…
Posted: Fri Nov 21, 2008.   Comments (2)

Once a con artist, always a con artist — Tony Golossian is accused of repeatedly luring a woman to motels, where he then blindfolded and sexually assaulted her. He told her it was all part of a ritual to remove a "black magic" curse on her family. If she didn't agree to participate, her 15-year-old sister would supposedly develop breast cancer and her "fallopian tubes would no longer function." Adding insult to injury, the woman paid him almost $100,000 for these "prayer sessions." I hate to blame the victim, but is there…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (4)

You know this man? — He's African Con-Cheater: His talent as a Con-Man makes him luring people into a "business-partnership" with him that will allow him to withdraw all money you have deposited into "His" account. If you help bring him to justice, you will receive 50% of the recovered money. Too bad he's probably already spent it all! Sent in by Norbert Harms, to whom lovemeadow.com is registered.
Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2008.   Comments (5)

Horse Theft Scam — Horse thievery used to be a huge problem. After the American Civil War it became so rampant in the West that it inspired the creation of a vigilante group that called itself the Anti Horse Thief Association. This group had, at one point, 30,000 members. But horse theft is something I thought became obsolete with the widespread adoption of automobiles. Apparently not. Authorities in Tennessee are warning of a modern-day horse theft scam. People are showing up at farms claiming to be…
Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2008.   Comments (4)

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)

Brother Roshan Wants Your Donations! — Canadian police are searching for two men who "falsely represented themselves as a spiritual healer and his assistant." Which raises the question: what counts as a real spiritual healer? The healer guy advertised himself on the radio as Brother Roshan. He used a magic trick to con his victims out of money. CTV.CA reports: Roshan wrote the names of each of his client's family members on each egg. He then placed the eggs in a covered pot of boiling water. Once they were cooked, he took…
Posted: Thu Jan 24, 2008.   Comments (2)

Fake Fishmongers Terrorize Edinburgh — Here's a case for the Streater sisters to tackle. Scotsman.com reports that: FAKE fishmongers are continuing to operate in Edinburgh, targeting residents in Newington and Fairmilehead in the past week, according to Trading Standards. It seems that these scam artists are wrapping Vietnamese catfish in polystyrene and cling film, then labeling it as "monkfish fillet," and using high-pressure sales techniques to get random people on the street to buy the phony fish. Up to three of them…
Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2007.   Comments (5)

Hypnotist Robbers — A New Hampshire convenience store clerk claims that he was robbed. However, the thieves didn't use any weapons or threats. Instead, they used hypnosis and mind control to make the clerk not notice that they were taking more than $1000. First coast news reports: It started with a simple mind game. Think of a wild animal, they say, and we'll write down what's in your mind. but it escalates quickly to very personal information about a former girlfriend, and finally, says Patel, mind…
Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2007.   Comments (11)

New From Elliot: Brooklyn Bridge Scams — Elliot's latest addition to the Hoaxipedia details scams involving the Brooklyn Bridge. I like this one in particular: In 1886, not long after the Brooklyn Bridge opened, another famous scam was perpetrated by a Brooklyn bookie named Steve Brodie. According to the story, Brodie’s scam originated in a bet with a Brooklyn bartender named Chuck Connors. The bookie wagered Connors that he could jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive the fall. Steve Brodie ultimately won the bet and wound…
Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2007.   Comments (5)

Fake Money For Strippers — Damon Armagost probably thought he had a pretty good scam going. He had printed up some fake $100 bills from an image he downloaded off the internet. He was then using this counterfeit money to pay for lap dances at a strip club. He must have thought the strippers would never notice the money was fake. Unfortunately for him, they did and alerted the police, who arrested Armagost and charged him with manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency. Carl Sifakis, in his book Hoaxes and…
Posted: Mon Aug 27, 2007.   Comments (7)

Glass-Eaters Sentenced — Here's a couple that were making a career out of the inappropriate things found in food scam. Ronald Evano and his wife Mary would go to a restaurant, purposefully eat glass, get themselves hospitalized, and then threaten to sue the restaurant. They did this at least a dozen times and collected over $200,000 in compensation. The AP reports: Evano said in court that he and his wife ate the glass because they needed money. "We would go to a restaurant, and I'd say I had glass in my…
Posted: Thu Aug 16, 2007.   Comments (4)

Perpetual motion machine introduction delayed — Steorn is an Irish company which has announced that it's developed a "free energy" machine. "Free energy" is another name for "perpetual motion." As you may recall from high school physics, perpetual motion is theoretically impossible according to the known laws of physics. "Pshaw" says Steorn (figuratively, anyway). So, time for the Big Unveiling came...and went. "Technical problems" says Steorn. Gee, you'd think that a company which has a paradigm-shattering technology would…
Posted: Thu Jul 05, 2007.   Comments (13)

A “faster Internet” scam/hoax — So, this guy tells people he has a "revolutionary" technology that speeds up downloading from the Internet by a factor of maybe a hundred times or more. With it, you can download a full-length movie in seconds. He's had meetings with the President and vice-President about it and is working on ways to use it to beef up national security. Who wouldn't invest in a thing like that? He even wheedles money out of his relatives and his wife's family. OK, you can see where this is going,…
Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2007.   Comments (12)

Elizabeth Albanese — The Press Club of Dallas has been a much-respected institution for years, offering the annual Katie awards to journalists for high quality work. Recently, though, the organisation’s reputation has been dealt a crippling blow, with the news that their recent president, Elizabeth Albanese, has been falsifying the award results for at least the past two years. Albanese became involved with the Katies in 2003, the year she first won prizes, and has been reportedly tampering with the…
Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007.   Comments (19)

JT LeRoy, phantom author (Updated!) — This is a weird one. A book allegedly written by a young man, JT LeRoy, made a sensation recently. JT was a truck stop hooker, got involved with drugs, was possibly transgendered and generally had a pretty screwed-up life. The book was billed as non-fiction, supposedly the true story of JT's life. Naturally, it sold very well. Oprah loved it, the movie director Gus VanSant and other Hollywood types were interested in it. Then the JT LeRoy saga started coming apart. Funny story,…
Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2007.   Comments (11)

Page 1 of 5 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.