The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Con Artists
Is Surf Junky a Scam?
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 06, 2005
Surf Junky (www.surfjunky.com) is a service that supposedly lets you earn money simply by browsing the web. The description on its site of how it works isn't very clear, to say the least, but from what I can gather they make you have a browser window constantly open that flashes ads at you... a new one approximately every thirty seconds. They claim that they'll pay you about $0.45 for every hour that they sense you're actively browsing the web with this ad window flashing at you. Of course, it hasn't taken people long to figure out that theoretically you could leave the surf junky window open all day and be earning money while you do other stuff (like sleep). The…
The Hoax Paper Birds of Thailand
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 15, 2004
Last week 100 million paper birds were airdropped in southern Thailand. The airdrop was supposed to be the Thai government's symbolic peace gesture towards the Muslim separatists who live there. Billionaire Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra personally signed one of the paper birds, promising that whoever found this autographed bird would win a university scholarship (sounds like he has ambitions to be a modern-day Willy Wonka). A few days later a young girl came forward saying that she had found the bird. Provincial authorities checked it out and said that it looked genuine. But alas, it now appears the bird was a hoax. Shinawatra has indicated that he might give her a free scholarship anyway. But nobody knows…
Conman Makes Money Rain From Sky
Posted by The Curator on Fri Oct 29, 2004
Thanks to Big Gary for forwarding me this next story. A conman made hundreds of dollars by convincing residents of an Ethiopian town that he could make money literally rain down upon them from the sky. At first I thought, who could be stupid enough to believe that? But then I realized it's basically no different from any of the get-rich-quick schemes popular here in America: trade your way to riches in the stock market, work at home and earn big bucks, take this seminar and learn the secrets of financial success, etc...
Lost Pet Scam
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 20, 2004
Occasionally you see news stories like this one about lost cats who are found hundreds of miles from home, having got themselves locked into moving vans by accident. But watch out. If you lose your cat, then later get a call from movers who say they've found your pet in their van, it can be a scam. As the Crimes-of-Persuasion site details, it's known as the Catastrophic Lost Pet Scam. Those movers don't really have your pet. They're just con artists trying to get you to wire them 'gas money' supposedly to help them return your precious baby to its home. But in reality, Snuggles ain't coming home. At least, not with them. Once they get…
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 05, 2004
Lonely Hearts Scam
Posted by The Curator on Sat Sep 04, 2004
So out of the blue this girl from Russia sends you an email via Yahoo Personals. The two of you start corresponding. She sends you her picture... and she's really freakin' hot! Then she says she wants to call you. But she also insists that you give her your mailing address and full name. Why would she need that? So the question is: are you being set up to be scammed? If so, then what's the scam? That's the real-life question facing Johnny over at LiveJournal. I don't know exactly what the scam is, or even if there is one, though it sounds like one to me. Posting under the username 'hornswoggle' I theorized that Johnny could be…
Saudi Princess from Buffalo
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 10, 2004
She said she was Princess Antoinette Millard from Saudi Arabia. She was actually from Buffalo, New York. But somehow she managed to con her way into millions of dollars. Her cover was blown when she filed fake insurance claims. It's amazing how the old fake princess con never seems to go out of style.
Get That Degree You Want, Now
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 07, 2004
I had come to think I was never going to get my Ph.D., but I shouldn't have been so pessimistic. All I need to do is lower my standards a bit and sign up for one of those PhDs that Saint Regis University is practically giving away. A Georgia math teacher did, and she got a $16,000 pay raise. Or you could save even more money and get any degree you want, from any institution of higher learning, from BogusPhD.com.
Job Scam With Strippers
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 27, 2004
Here's an inventive scam. A Miami couple placed ads in newspapers offering $5000 a week for the job of chauffeuring strippers around. They got 43 applicants to wire them deposits of almost $1000 in order to secure this nonexistent dream job. Of course, they could probably have said, pay us $5000 a week and we'll let you drive strippers around, and they would have still netted some victims.
Spacey’s Faux Mugging
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 19, 2004
Kevin Spacey has recanted on his claim that he was mugged in a London park at 4 am and had his cellphone stolen. What he meant to say was that he voluntarily handed over his phone to someone who asked if they could use it to call their mother, but instead ran away with it. Then Spacey tripped over his dog and cut his head. Not quite the same. But saying you were mugged sounds a little more respectable than admitting you fell for what is, quite literally, the oldest con in the book (the origin of the term con, or 'confidence scam,' dates back to the 1840s when a swindler named William Thompson would approach gentlemen on the…
Imaginary Mail-Order Brides
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 08, 2004
The JFK-Marilyn Monroe Correspondence
Posted by The Curator on Sun Mar 14, 2004
Lex Cusack is in jail for selling love letters supposedly written in 1961 by JFK to Marilyn Monroe. The problem is that the letters contained zip codes, and zip codes only came into use in 1963. Now the FBI wants to destroy all the letters, and Cusack is crying foul. He argues that even if the letters are fake (he continues to claim they're real), they're still his property and the government can't just destroy them.
Million Dollar Bill
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 10, 2004
Apparently in a bid to secure the title of 'Stupidest Criminal Ever,' a woman, Alice Regina Pike, handed a clerk at WalMart a $1,000,000 bill and asked to cash it. The clerk refused, so then Ms. Pike tried to buy $1,675 worth of merchandise with the bill. Still no luck. Finally the cops were called in and the woman was taken away. She probably would have had more luck if she had tried with monopoly money, or perhaps one of those $200 George Bush bills.
Is John Edward a fake?
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 21, 2004
It seems like whenever I turn on the SciFi channel, there's John Edward talking to the dead. I don't really care if he actually can talk to the dead or not (I assume he can't). I'm more concerned by the fact that his show is boring. But on the start of his Australian tour, a man has sued him, claiming that Edward's show violates the Trade Practices Act which stipulates that suppliers of goods can't make claims that they can't substantiate. In this case, Edward claims he can talk to the dead, but the guy suing him is pretty sure he can't. It'll be interesting to see how the case is…
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 14, 2004
Alan Williams, a professor at Southwestern Adventist University, received a Ph.D. from Glencullen University. For some reason, he didn't think it odd that Glencullen had no campus, no faculty, and required him to do nothing to earn the degree. In reality, Glencullen didn't even exist. Despite its Irish name and Irish-themed website, it's just a diploma mill based in Romania. Williams claims that he's shocked, shocked to learn this. For some reason, I don't know why, it's hard to believe that he's really an innocent victim.Update: Brian Kelly informed me that my link to the Glencullen University website is incorrect. The site I linked to originally is actually a spoof site…