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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Con Artists
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)

Best of the Forum – 22nd June 07 — Flowers growing from a steel pipe (NEO) A Chinese man has found what he believes to be a patch of white flowers growing from a steel pipe in his vegetable garden. Ding has consulted his neighbours, who believe the flowers are the legendary Youtan Poluo flower, which blossoms only once every 3,000 years. “No soil, no water. These flowers can bring me good luck,” he added. Forum members suspect, however, that the 'flowers' are lacewing eggs (see pictures to compare.) Make your bad…
Posted: Fri Jun 22, 2007.   Comments (7)

God Metal Scam — Swindlers conned a Vietnamese businessman into buying $25,000 worth of "God Metal." Apparently, the existence of God Metal is an old folk legend in Vietnam. According to Thanh Nien News: ‘God metal’, also known as ‘black copper’, is almost a myth in Vietnam. Those who claim to have seen it say it is extremely heavy but floats in an iron bucket of water. In its vicinity glass shatters, matches and lighters do not ignite, iron nails are repelled, and gold turns white. The mark for the…
Posted: Sat Jun 09, 2007.   Comments (4)

Fake Tree Doctors — Residents of Ashford, England have been warned of a nefarious scam being practiced in the area. A "bogus caller" claiming to be a tree surgeon will knock on a person's door. The caller tells the person they have a problem tree in their yard that needs some work. Borough tree officer Mark Symonds warns that, "Sadly, some have been taken in and had prize trees ruined by shoddy workmanship. No reputable local tree surgeon would call unannounced in the hope of finding work.” The Kent News…
Posted: Wed May 30, 2007.   Comments (5)

Computer Programme Debunks Pianist — English pianist Joyce Hatto had risen to some prominence over the year preceding her death. Whilst she never played in public, recordings of her performances of works by artists such as Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov and Dukas, produced by her husband from a private studio, had her hailed as an unknown genius. However, an iTunes programme that compares recordings with an online database has thrown her abilities into doubt. A critic for the classical music magazine Gramophone was…
Posted: Tue Feb 20, 2007.   Comments (10)

Aleksey Vayner — Well, this was brought to my attention by both Outeast and Goobermaster (Thanks, guys.) and, now that I have a new computer that's able to show videos without shutting down, I can see why. Aleksey Vayner sent his resume to an investment bank. He's going to be a class of '07 Yalie, and he's looking for a job. Fair enough. However, along with the resume and covering letter he attached a video. That would be when the fuss started. The IvyGate blog - one which covers events in the Ivy…
Posted: Thu Oct 12, 2006.   Comments (20)

Nigerian Bulldog Scam — The latest in the long series of what are known as 'Nigerian Scams' is one featuring bulldog puppies. Three red flags went up when Mindy Gorman enquired after a $500 bulldog advertised on the Savannah Morning News website. When she emailed the sellers, they replied with an announcement that the puppies had been sold, but: "... You're lucky to have mailed at this time because the puppy has just been placed on adoption by one of my customers, who went on a veterinarian work transfer…
Posted: Mon Oct 09, 2006.   Comments (398)

Quick Links: The Welsh Robin Hood, etc. — Was Robin Hood Welsh? American historian claims Robin Hood was Welsh, not English. Also that his real name was Bran. "He claims Robin would not have been able to hide out in Sherwood Forest because it would have been too small and well chartered." The Nottingham City Council says: "We laugh at this suggestion." Pastor Indicted For Faking Raffles We've learned not to trust internet lotteries. It looks like church lotteries are going the same way: "Rev. Robert J. Ascolese... would call…
Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2006.   Comments (6)

Con Artist Poses as Rock Star — A man identifying himself as Rob Valenti claimed to have been the guitarist for REO Speedwagon and managed to con two men out of hundreds of dollars. On Saturday, he contacted real estate agents, saying he was interested in purchasing property as a tax investment. After they'd showed him properties from $800,000 upwards, he started preliminary paperwork on at least two properties, before the agents bought him dinner and arranged for him to have a room for the night. That evening, he…
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2006.   Comments (4)

Quick Links: Q-Ray, MIT, and Stupid Criminals — Q-Ray Made To Pay Remember the Q-Ray bracelet? There was a thread about it in the old forum. This "miracle bracelet" could do everything from curing arthritis to helping you win a marathon. Now a judge has slapped its inventor with a $22.5 million fine for false advertising. Turns out it couldn't do any of that stuff after all. Who would have thought? Woman Robs Bank With Toy Gun Another Stupid Criminal. Or perhaps a criminal suffering from senile dementia. A 79-year-old woman "walked…
Posted: Wed Sep 13, 2006.   Comments (11)

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