The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
Carjacker Strategy: Place Paper On Your Rear Window — Status: Theoretically could happen (though there's no solid evidence it ever has) You may have received this email warning recently: Imagine: You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. Then you lock all your doors, start the engine and shift into REVERSE. Habit! You look into the rear-view window to back out of your parking space and you notice a piece of paper, some sort of advertisement stuck to your rear window. So, you shift into PARK, unlock your doors and…
Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006.   Comments (25)

The Case of the Missing Violin — Status: False theft report A San Francisco woman has admitted to sending police on a wild goose chase to find a $175,000 violin that she claimed had been stolen from her car. She really does own such a violin, but it doesn't appear to have been missing. It's not clear why she said it was. Here are some details from the AP article: The sad tale of a San Francisco music student who had a $175,000 18th century violin swiped from her towed car was a fabrication, authorities confirmed…
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (9)

Man Given $15,000 Ring By Stranger — Status: Undetermined (reported in the news, but from an anonymous source) It sounds like an urban legend. At the end of a work day a commuter returns to his car parked at the train station in Westborough, Massachusetts, only to realize he had left it unlocked all day. Miraculously, the car is still there, despite the numerous thefts in that area. But someone has been in his car, and they've left something: a box with a white ribbon on it, placed on the front seat. Inside is a diamond…
Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2005.   Comments (6)

Student Visited By DHS Agents After Requesting Little Red Book at Library — Status: Hoax A news report has been doing the rounds concerning a student at UMass Dartmouth who was visited by Department of Homeland Security agents after ordering the official Peking version of Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book via interlibrary loan. The student needed the book for a research paper on communism, but apparently the book is on some kind of government watch list, and thus the visit. However, over at Boing Boing, suspicions have been raised that the story is a hoax.…
Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005.   Comments (10)


The CSI Effect — Status: Fiction mistaken for reality I've included many definitions of hoax-related terms in Hippo Eats Dwarf. One of these terms is the CSI Effect. I define it as "The belief that all criminal cases are solved using the high-tech, forensic science seen on TV crime shows such as CSI. Lawyers have noticed that the lack of such high-tech evidence can seriously prejudice a jury against a prosecutor's case. A manifestation of the if-it's-not-like-what-we-see-on-TV-then-it-can't-be-real…
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005.   Comments (16)

Police Officer Declares Himself Hindu Deity — Status: Impersonating a deity A male police officer in India has declared himself to be the reincarnation of Radha, the female consort of the Hindu god Krishna. Naturally, he dresses the part: Devendra Kumar Panda, a 1971 batch officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS), presents an odd sight draped in female attire - complete with nose ring, lipstick, finger and toe nails painted red - and singing hymns in praise of Lord Krishna and dancing. "Lord Krishna has himself assigned me the…
Posted: Sun Nov 13, 2005.   Comments (12)

Patent The A and Patented Storylines — Status: Patent the A is satire; patented storylines is serious The Ecchi Patent Company claims to hold a patent on the letter A: The rights lie with us for all forms of the letter A, including, but not limited to, uppercase, lowercase, accented, Cyrillic, put in a little circle (e-mail users please note), in code, and in any form we may not have thought of already. Supposedly you need to obtain a license from them in order to use the letter A in any form: "we will soon begin…
Posted: Fri Nov 04, 2005.   Comments (14)

David Manning Settlement — A week or two ago papers were reporting the final verdict in the class-action suit against Sony stemming from the David Manning phony critic case. Sony got slapped with a $1.5million fine that was supposed to compensate moviegoers who felt defrauded by the fake ads. But William Booth of the Washington Post did some research and found out that not all was as it seemed with the payout: News of the settlement created a stir in cyberspace and the entertainment press, with visions of tens…
Posted: Wed Sep 14, 2005.   Comments (2)

Downloading Communism — Jelena sent in the image to the right, asking "Americans do have a reputation, but this can't be for real, can it?" By real, I assume she means--is the RIAA really distributing this poster? The answer is no. Looking at the fine print on the side of the image, I can see that it's author was modernhumorist.com.
Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2005.   Comments (8)

Suspicious MARC Poster — David Emery gave me a heads up about this soviet-style poster that has supposedly been sighted on the MARC trains that go between Baltimore and Washington DC. It urges passengers to: "Report any unusual activities or packages to the nearest conductor. WATCH, RIDE, AND REPORT." The poster seems so Big-Brother-like that a lot of people suspect it must be a hoax. David Emery comments: "the logo on the poster reads "MARC Marshals" which, as far as I can tell, don't exist. MARC trains are…
Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005.   Comments (10)

Fake Bulletproof Vests — Apparently the latest fashion with kids is fake bullet-proof vests. They're called 'Raid Vests'. According to the Boston Globe, "Some parents are even buying the $50 faux vests for their toddlers and their dogs." The vests come in suede, nylon, and denim. Personally it wouldn't make me feel very safe to wear one, because I would worry that someone would think they could take a shot at me.
Posted: Wed Jun 08, 2005.   Comments (32)

Wal-Mart Cracks Down on Parody — Wal-Mart has threatened to sue a student who designed a parody web page that used some images from the Wal-Mart Foundation's website. The student has taken the images off his page. He's just 20 years old. What is he going to do to fight off Wal-Mart? However, I don't think he should have removed the images. He's in the right. The law gives very specific protections to parody, since parody inevitably depends upon borrowing elements of the original. I think the guy should put the images…
Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2005.   Comments (5)

Give Me Whatever’s In The Bag — This comes via News of the Weird. The incident occurred in San Diego, but somehow I missed hearing about it on the local news: Urban Legend Come to Life: A San Diego Union Tribune report of a March 28 attempted robbery seems accurate, though reminiscent of reports that have been hoaxes (including one, from The Dallas Morning News, that News of the Weird fell for in 2002). A 32-year-old woman reported that a robber accosted her and her dog in an upscale San Diego neighborhood that…
Posted: Thu Apr 28, 2005.   Comments (3)

The Case of the Stolen Laptop — A video is going around that shows a UC Berkeley professor detailing the mess a student got into by stealing his laptop (Boing Boing links to various copies of the video). The student thought he was just going to be stealing a copy of an exam. What he didn't know was that he was also stealing industrial trade secrets, which will send various federal agencies searching for him. It's a great speech by the professor. The question is, how much of it is real, and how much of it is bluff?
Posted: Thu Apr 21, 2005.   Comments (16)

Gnome Defense — Big Gary sent me this story, knowing that it would be a suitable contribution to the fast-growing Garden Gnome Wing of the museum (one of these days I'll actually get around to creating a gnome category): LONDON - A grandmother stopped an intruder from entering her home by lobbing a heavy garden gnome at him, police said Friday. Jean Collop was woken early on Tuesday morning by the sound of an intruder on the roof of her home in Wadebridge, southwest England. "I grabbed the first…
Posted: Sun Apr 17, 2005.   Comments (10)

Mushroom Licenses — Are you soon going to need a license to pick wild mushrooms in Illinois? That was what an email press release that circulated around last week stated. The email claimed that mushroom hunters would have to get a license from the same vendors that sell hunting and fishing licenses, and that revenue from the license sales would benefit biological and archaeological research in Illinois. The email prompted dozens of people to call the Illinois Natural Resources Department to complain. Today…
Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2005.   Comments (4)

Bombing — I've heard that there's a new internet fad called 'Bombing' which involves internet users getting together to phone in fake emergencies to the police. I have no idea whether or not this is really happening (though it did immediately make me think of the Not-So-Great Internet UFO Hoax, which involved an internet community trying to coordinate calling up authorities with a phony UFO sighting). Has anyone ever heard of this new fad? Is it real? Update: This question arises because a Texas…
Posted: Thu Mar 24, 2005.   Comments (24)

Welcome to the World of AIDS — Here's an old news story (from Dec. 2003), but it's still interesting from an urban legend perspective. An 18-year-old youth in South Africa claims that three women forced him at gunpoint to have sex with them. "The youth claims that after this the women said welcome to the world of Aids." It seems like the police didn't believe his story. They just laughed at him, which isn't surprising considering that his story is exactly like that urban legend about someone who wakes up after a…
Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2005.   Comments (11)

Hitman Professional Killings — Status: Hoax website If you're ever shopping around for a contract killer, look no further than HITMAN, "The most trusted name in professional killings." They conveniently take Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Plus, they offer "discounts for packages of three hits or more, as long as the marks are all grouped together in one geographic location, and as long as our services have to be rendered all within the same timeframe." I'm impressed by their list of 'greatest hits' that…
Posted: Mon Mar 14, 2005.   Comments (37)

No Cell Phones While Pumping Gas — A Connecticut senator, Andrea Stillman, has introduced a bill into the state legislature to impose a $250 fine on anyone who uses a cell phone while pumping gas. She sees it as a public health issue. Here's her reasoning: Stillman said there are already warnings pasted on gas pumps informing people that a cell phone in the proximity of a gas pump could cause an electrical charge that might ignite the pump. However, she said, there are no penalties. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that…
Posted: Thu Mar 10, 2005.   Comments (44)

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