In 1949, did a California restaurant worker really find a will sealed inside a bottle that bequeathed millions of dollars to him, as the finder of the bottle?
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 confessed that he had written the note, and that no one else was involved in the scheme, explaining, "I wanted the money and it sounded like something that could be done." A detective said that the circumstances of the case had immediately aroused his suspicions because, "You tell me one kidnapper that signs his name 'kidnaper' at the bottom of a note."
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 operation.
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.
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]
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…