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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
Self-Kidnapping Attempt Goes Awry — From the incompetent criminals file: Back in 1974, 20-year-old Kenneth Lutz of Grand Terrace, California thought he had found an easy way to scam his parents. He kidnapped himself. He did this by attaching a note to his parents' front door demanding $5000 in $20 bills for his return, with instructions that the money be "put out when you go to work Wednesday," and signed the note, "the kidnaper". Then he went into hiding. However, he didn't hide very well. When the police arrived a few hours later they found him sitting at a desk in a camper van behind his parents' home. He promptly… Continue…
Posted: Thu Jan 01, 2015.   Comments (0)

The bogus store that never happened — Here's an example from 1975 of bureaucracy at its finest. The Nassau County District Attorney planned to create a "bogus store" equipped with hidden surveillance equipment and manned by undercover cops, in order to catch people selling stolen goods on behalf of organized crime. But before it could happen, another part of the state bureaucracy, the Division of Criminal Justice, issued a press release announcing the plan. Defending the announcement, the agency's pr officer noted, "We can't say there are 49 public grants and one secret one." So that was the end of that undercover… Continue…
Posted: Sat Dec 20, 2014.   Comments (2)

The Disappearance of Aimee Semple McPherson — BBC News tells the story (briefly, but with good pictures) of this famous kidnapping hoax from the 1920s. Note that McPherson claimed she was drugged with a chloroform-soaked rag and then abducted. This alone suggests her story was bogus since, as Wikipedia notes, the chloroform-soaked rag as an incapacitating agent is a cliche of crime fiction. The reality is that it's very difficult to drug someone in this way with chloroform.
Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2014.   Comments (0)

Fake News Hoax: Zimmerman Arrested in Ferguson — The latest fake news story gone viral on social media is the claim that George Zimmerman (who shot Trayvon Martin back in 2012) was recently arrested in Ferguson after following two black teenagers out of a Dunkin Donuts and then aiming a handgun at them when they confronted him. The story originated with fake news site National Report. It's completely bogus. [hoax-slayer]
Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014.   Comments (0)


Bible Didn’t Stop Bullets — Back in February, a bus driver, Rickey Wagoner, claimed that he was shot at by three teenagers while he was standing outside his bus. But he survived because a Bible he was carrying in his shirt pocket miraculously stopped the bullets. (The version of the Bible was a translation by Eugene Peterson titled 'The Message'.) Police have now conducted a thorough investigation and concluded that the bus driver couldn't have been telling the truth. According to the Dayton Daily News: Police ballistics tests showed that bullets fired from the handgun - a 25-caliber Raven model semiautomatic… Continue…
Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2014.   Comments (3)

Stop and Kiss — Satire mistaken as news. Gawker reports that an obviously satirical Onion video about a nonexistent NYPD "stop-and-kiss" policy has sparked some real-life outrage — from people who apparently have never heard of the Onion. (Thanks Bob!) "Stop and kiss ? NYPD need to chill," tweeted one of the many rock-dwellers who took to social media to actually protest a parody video about a fake protest. "i dont understand the stop and kiss program..its taking it a little too far," tweeted another…
Posted: Thu Dec 05, 2013.   Comments (0)

Clown Crime Spree — West Yorkshire police denied reports there was a sinister clown on the prowl in Bradford, "peering in windows, committing robberies and even stabbing people." A police spokesman said, "This seems like it might be a hoax. We haven't had any reports of crimes committed by a clown, I can say that much." During the past week, a photo has been circulating on facebook and twitter showing an evil clown standing outside a Bradford McDonalds. This photo has apparently helped to fuel the rumors…
Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2013.   Comments (0)

Man fakes his own abduction to avoid girlfriend’s wrath — Not exactly a criminal mastermind. Rahmell Pettway needed a good excuse to explain his two-week absence from his Bedford-Stuyvesant home to his girlfriend. So he faked his own abduction, tying himself up with duct tape on the side of a street. When found, he told police that two men in a light-blue minivan had first abducted him and then dumped him there. The problem? The roll of duct tape was still dangling from his wrists. This made the police suspicious, and soon Pettway confessed…
Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2013.   Comments (0)

Chili Finger Lady back in the news — Remember Anna Ayala? She was the woman who, back in 2005, concocted the story about finding a human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili. That story got her 4 years in prison. Looks like she's back in the news, and again for lying to the police. This time she came up with a story about how her son was shot in the foot by an assailant. The truth, however, was that her son shot himself in the foot, but he wasn't allowed to possess a gun because of a burglary conviction, so she was trying to…
Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2013.   Comments (0)

Lawyer who lied about her age — Soma Sengupta has recently been convicted of lying extensively about her past work experience in order to advance her legal career. She claimed that she had previously been an accomplished trial lawyer, although she hadn't been. She also forged reference letters and school transcripts. But what tripped her up was a much simpler lie. She stated on an application that she was 29, but a clerk who was reviewing the form took one look at her and couldn't believe it. Turned out she was…
Posted: Mon Feb 18, 2013.   Comments (4)

Fake news already spreading about Dorner shootout — Hey, did you hear that Christopher Dorner somehow survived yesterday's shootout? Yeah, apparently the charred remains inside the cabin have been identified as female, not male! No credible news sources are reporting this, but there's a blurry TV screenshot of a CNN newscast circulating on twitter & facebook that says it, so it must be true!
Posted: Wed Feb 13, 2013.   Comments (4)

Photoshopped Greek Mugshots — Over in Greece there's uproar over some mugshots of suspected bank robbers. Photos of the men being taken into custody show them badly bruised, but in the mugshots released by the police these bruises have disappeared, and the police admit that, yeah, they photoshopped the mugshots to remove the bruises. Critics say this was done to hide evidence of police brutality. The police say they did it to make the men recognizable. In the photos below, the pre-mugshot pics are on the left, and…
Posted: Sat Feb 09, 2013.   Comments (0)

Man prosecuted for photoshopping — Over in Zimbabwe they treat photoshopping as a serious offense, especially if you decide to photoshop your head onto the body of Robert Mugage, as graphic designer Ronald Chikambure allegedly did. The official charge against him was "undermining the authority of the President." Apparently detectives were tipped off that Chikambure was displaying said photoshopped picture on the wall of his office, so they raided his office. They didn't find the picture on the wall, but they did find a…
Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2013.   Comments (0)

The Disappearance of Matthew Robillard — Sounds like the guy got tired of his old life and decided to disappear and start a new one. Matthew Robillard's Lethbridge Disappearance A Hoax: Police huffingtonpost.ca Police in southern Alberta say the disappearance of a young family man late last week was a hoax. Matthew Aaron Robillard's relatives called police Thursday when the 25-year-old Lethbridge man failed to show up for work at a Scotiabank in nearby Picture Butte. His car was later discovered with a smashed window in an…
Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013.   Comments (1)

Petty theft as a “social experiment” — From the Bad Excuse file: A New Jersey couple was arrested for stealing outdoor table umbrellas from restaurants around Basking Ridge. They didn't deny taking the umbrellas, but they said it was all for a good reason. You see, it was part of a "social experiment." They were doing a documentary on "doing the right thing." They even had a manila folder with them full of notes about the project. But apparently they hadn't thought through what was going to happen when witnesses "did the…
Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012.   Comments (0)

A Phony Yacht Explosion, and Other New Jersey Emergency Hoaxes — Last Monday, the Coast Guard received a distress call reporting that a yacht had exploded. Twenty-one people were said to be floating in rafts 17 miles off the New Jersey shore, and at least three were believed to be dead. A massive rescue operation was launched. But the Coast Guard soon realized that the call was a hoax. It turns out that New Jersey has quite a long history of hoax calls to emergency service providers. The New Jersey Star-Ledger has compiled a list of the most…
Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Old Potato/Laptop Switcheroo Scam — I'm assuming the scammers must stuff the potatoes inside a laptop box. Otherwise I'm not sure how they convince their victims to walk away with a bag of potatoes instead of a laptop. Manchester police appeal over potato laptop fraud bbc.co.uk Police say at least four people have been approached by two men offering to sell them a laptop or iPhone. One man paid up to £1,400 and walked away with a rucksack full of potatoes. Other victims received bottles of soft drinks. Police said the…
Posted: Wed May 16, 2012.   Comments (0)

Notice to Thieves, Thugs, Fakirs and Bunko-Steerers — Warning notice posted in Las Vegas, New Mexico, March 24, 1882. Had to post it because I love the term "Bunko-Steerers". From New Mexico's Digital Collections (via Kate Nelson).
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012.   Comments (0)

Cop Convention at Donutland — I'm not sure how old this image is, but it must be 15 or 20 years old at least. It's been circulating online for as long as I can remember. It's one of those images that's become a staple on humor sites, but people don't often pause to ask about the details of it: is the picture real? Where was it taken? And if it is real, what were all those cops doing there? Were they really all on a donut break? Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out very much about the picture. Although I…
Posted: Thu May 03, 2012.   Comments (2)

Scammers vs. lawyers vs. bankers — It's kinda hard to know who, if anyone, to feel sympathy for here. (Thanks, Bob!) Lawyer falls for Nigerian e-mail scam, sues Wells Fargo bizjournals.com An Edina law firm that lost nearly $400,000 in a Nigerian wire-fraud scam is claiming that Wells Fargo, which handled the fund transfers, should cover its losses. The Star Tribune reports on the lawsuit by Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz, which three years ago received an e-mail from someone purporting to be a Korean woman who needed the…
Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2012.   Comments (0)

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.