The Hoax Museum Blog
A Phony Yacht Explosion, and Other New Jersey Emergency Hoaxes
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jun 18, 2012
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 memorable examples. It traces all the way back to what is probably the most famous hoax emergency call of all time, the 1938 War of the…
The Old Potato/Laptop Switcheroo Scam
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 16, 2012
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 conmen spoke with an Eastern European accent.
Notice to Thieves, Thugs, Fakirs and Bunko-Steerers
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 10, 2012
Cop Convention at Donutland
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 03, 2012
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 was able to locate where it was taken, because a few people recognized…
Scammers vs. lawyers vs. bankers
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 11, 2012
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 firm's help to collect a settlement... In his suit, Robert Milavetz argues that Wells Fargo & Co. should have recognized the red flags involved.
UK Legal Urban Legends
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 09, 2012
Another list of urban legends from the BBC. This time it's legal urban legends. All the following laws, though frequently repeated, are NOT TRUE: It's illegal to die in Parliament. It's illegal to put a stamp on upside down. It's illegal to eat a mince pie on Christmas Day. It's legal to kill Welsh people in the town of Chester. It's legal for a man to urinate in public, as long as it's on the rear wheel of his car and his right hand is on the vehicle. And pregnant women can legally relieve themselves in any public place, including into a policeman's helmet. London taxis have to carry a bale of hay in their boot. If someone knocks…
Don’t give me a ticket, Officer. I’m about to give birth!
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 04, 2012
Judith Anne Holland obviously thought she had a pretty foolproof alibi when she got pulled over for speeding. She told the officer she was in labour and on her way to the hospital. But when she got pulled over a second time, within the same hour, she was accompanied to the hospital, where they discovered she wasn't pregnant. Home detention for pregnancy hoax stuff.co.nz A woman who pretended to be in labour twice on the same day after she was caught speeding and driving while disqualified was yesterday sentenced to home detention when she appeared in Invercargill District Court...
The Great Tide Crime Wave
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 13, 2012
M.L. Nestel, writing for thedaily.com, reports that Tide detergent has become the hot new item targeted by thieves. He calls it a "Grime Wave." Nestel writes: Theft of Tide detergent has become so rampant that authorities from New York to Oregon are keeping tabs on the soap spree, and some cities are setting up special task forces to stop it. And retailers like CVS are taking special security precautions to lock down the liquid. According to Nestel, Tide has become a form of currency on the street, where it's known as "liquid gold." People trade it for drugs. A recent drug sting turned up more Tide than cocaine. Apparently, thieves…
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 20, 2012
At least 10 people in Vancouver who bought iPad 2s have reported opening up the packaging only to discover it contained a slab of modeling clay, not an iPad. It's an old strategy for thieves to conceal their crime by replacing the item in the box with something of lesser value. Reminds me of the case from 2006 of the Hawaiian boy who opened an iPod box on Christmas Day, only to discover it contained a package of meat. Link: Yahoo!
Manhattan School Employees Behaving Badly
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 12, 2012
Two stories have been in the news recently about Manhattan school employees who were somewhat derelict in their commitment to the truth. The first was Joan Barnett, a parent coordinator, who, in order to get two-and-a-half weeks of vacation, claimed her daughter "Xinia Daley Herman" had died. Her mistake: she submitted a death certificate with weird, misaligned fonts. When busted, she initially claimed her daughter really had "died of a heart condition." But eventually she broke down and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. It's not clear from the article if she really had a daughter with that name. Link: National Post The second is teacher Mona Lisa Tello, who submitted a fake jury…
Parents of Balloon Boy receive their sentence
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 23, 2009
Richard Heene is going to have to serve 90 days -- 30 in jail and 60 in a work-release program. Mayumi Heene has 20 days in jail. Prosecutors have asked that they also pay $47,000 in restitution. They're also barred from making any money from the incident. So no money from book deals. Link: LA Times
The Snail in the Ginger Beer
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 20, 2009
Two weeks ago I linked to a BBC article by Clive Coleman about the case of the carbolic smoke ball. He must be doing a series on interesting legal cases, because he's back with a great article about the legal case of the snail found in ginger beer. Quick summary In 1928 May Donoghue claimed to find a snail in her bottle of ginger beer. Her complaint eventually helped bring about modern consumer protection laws in the UK. The catch: "to this day, no-one knows for sure if there ever really was a snail in May Donoghue's bottle of ginger beer." I should add this case to my list of
Should privacy laws protect murderers?
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 13, 2009
From wired.com: Wikipedia is under a censorship attack by a convicted murderer who is invoking Germany’s privacy laws in a bid to remove references to his killing of a Bavarian actor in 1990. Lawyers for Wolfgang Werle, of Erding, Germany, sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding removal of Werle’s name from the Wikipedia entry on actor Walter Sedlmayr. The lawyers cite German court rulings that “have held that our client’s name and likeness cannot be used anymore in publication regarding Mr. Sedlmayr’s death.” Occasionally I receive requests from people I've posted about, in regard to some hoax or…
Rescue Dummy, Get Robbed
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 06, 2009
What you get for trying to be a hero nowadays: A man was attacked and robbed after he jumped into a lake believing a boy was drowning, only to find it was a dummy. The dog walker was approached by a "distressed" couple in Foxes Forest, Portsmouth, who said their son had been attacked by a swan in nearby water. When the 48-year-old jumped into the lake and discovered the dummy he saw the man going through his coat pockets. Link: BBC
Man Sues Over Lack of Axe Effect
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 02, 2009
A news story is circulating claiming that an Indian man, 26-year-old Vaibhav Bedi, has sued Axe deodorant (aka Lynx in Europe) because he failed to land a single girlfriend after using their product for seven years. It's in The Australian and the Daily Record, among other news sources. This is an example of satire being mistaken as news. According to Asylum.com: Axe spokesperson Heather Mitchell sent Asylum this statement: "We've been following the news reports from India where a man was allegedly planning to take legal action for the Axe Effect not working for him personally. We can confirm this is a hoax. In fact the story originated…