The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
Is the Eiffel Tower Copyrighted? — Has the city of Paris really copyrighted the Eiffel Tower as it looks lit up at night, meaning that anyone (including a tourist) who takes a picture of the Eiffel Tower at night has to get permission and pay a fee before publishing that picture? As bizarre as it sounds, apparently this is true. Even if you wanted to post your holiday photos of the 'Eiffel Tower by night' on the web, you would technically have to get permission first. The Eiffel Tower itself was built in 1889, and…
Posted: Thu Feb 03, 2005.   Comments (14)

Connecticut Evacuated — Residents of the entire state of Connecticut were ordered to evacuate yesterday, after someone in the state emergency management department accidentally "pressed the wrong button" and sent out the evacuation message to broadcasters (thanks to Gary for forwarding the story). Even though TV and radio listeners were told that the state was being evacuated, nobody paid any attention. The police didn't even receive any calls about it. Obviously Connecticut needs to revise its emergency…
Posted: Wed Feb 02, 2005.   Comments (12)

Happy Slappers — The Sun reports that British rowdies have embraced a new hobby: happy slapping. Here's what the Sun says: A VIOLENT craze in which thugs slap strangers across the face and record it on video phone is sweeping Britain. The so-called "happy slappers" attack while an accomplice captures it to post on the internet or send to another mobile. But what started as a schoolkids' prank has escalated into more serious assaults - including fly-kicking strangers' spines - and robberies. This…
Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005.   Comments (29)

Aural Policing — According to an article in the Economist, quoted here by the Washington Monthly blog, a British grocery store chain has been successfully deterring rowdy youths from hanging around their stores by playing classical music. Mozart and Pavarotti appear to be especially potent at warding off juvenile delinquents. The same technique has been working in underground stations. Something about this strikes me as a bit odd. Why would it work? Just because the kids don't like having to listen to…
Posted: Tue Jan 11, 2005.   Comments (26)


Anonymous Lawyer — The Anonymous Lawyer blog makes clear that it's the diary of a "fictional hiring partner at a large law firm". However, as this NY Times article notes, many people who had become fans of the blog and its account of the "soulless, billable-hours-obsessed partners, the overworked BlackBerry-dependent associates and the wrecked families that are the dark underside of life at his large firm in Los Angeles" were convinced that it had to be written by a real-life "Big Law insider". As it…
Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004.   Comments (4)

PhotoBlocker Spray — The makers of PhotoBlocker spray claim that their product will make your license plate invisible to photo radar, red light cameras, and infrared and laster cameras. Special crystals in the spray will reflect back the flash (or light source) used by these cameras, making your license look like a bright blur. Would this actually work? Would it be legal if it did? They say that the spray is invisible to the naked eye, which means that it won't be of much use if a cop pulls you over.…
Posted: Tue Dec 07, 2004.   Comments (222)

Aliens Made Me Do It — The BBC reports that the staff of the Northumbria Safety Camera Partnership have come up with the 10 stupidest excuses drivers have come up with to explain why they were speeding. Number one is: "I passed out after seeing UFOs." Not only stupid, but illogical (unless you passed out and somehow jammed your foot on the accelerator). A few of the other excuses are: A jet over-head, not me, triggered the camera I had a severe bout of diarrhoea A gust of wind pushed me over the limit I…
Posted: Fri Dec 03, 2004.   Comments (4)

A Visit from the Secret Service — A couple of stories about writers receiving visits from the Secret Service have been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere, and a lot of people have been wondering if they're real or fake. The first case involves fanfic writer Annie Sewell-Jennings who posted an entry on her blog in which she satirically prayed that Bush would die. A couple of weeks later, according to her, "the Secret Service showed up on my mother's front door to talk to me about what I said about the…
Posted: Mon Nov 01, 2004.   Comments (11)

Man Tries to Kill Wife to ‘Save Marriage’ — If there was an award for stupid excuses, this guy would get one. William Dahlby threw a live electrical wire into his wife's bath, and when she tried to jump out, he pushed her back in. But he says that he's innocent of trying to kill her because he only did it to "save the marriage." He was hoping the near-death experience would jump-start their flagging relationship, so to speak. Apparently William didn't realize that the old saying about the quickest way to a woman's heart being…
Posted: Fri Oct 29, 2004.   Comments (6)

Extreme Kidnapping — If you're searching for unusual thrills, why not try getting kidnapped? Extreme Kidnapping promises that it will allow you to "customize your own kidnapping!" Yup. For the right price, women in fishnet stockings will show up unannounced at your door, whisk you away, and keep you bound and gagged in their basement for a few days. As weird as this sounds, I actually think it's real, mainly because I've heard of this before. Back in 2002 a guy called Brock Enright was in the news for…
Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2004.   Comments (12)

Fake Maoists — Fake Maoists are running amok in Nepal, robbing people and extorting money from shopkeepers and businessmen. What's next? Fake Marxists holding up banks? Phony Socialists looting liquor stores? Meanwhile, the Real Maoists are fighting back against the Fake Maoists who, so they claim, are trying to ruin their reputation. For some reason this reminds me of the fake eunuchs at large in India.
Posted: Thu Oct 07, 2004.   Comments (0)

Game Show Sting — If you're a wanted criminal you may want to think twice about showing up to appear on a TV game show. British police created a fake game show, Great Big Giveaway Show, to which they invited twenty people on their wanted list. Seventeen of them were arrested. I guess no one can resist a chance to be on TV. (Thanks to Andrew Nixon for the link)
Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2004.   Comments (4)

Stupid Counterfeiters — How not to run a counterfeit money scam. a) Buy merchandise at Wal-Mart with fake money. b) Return merchandise a few days later and ask for your money back. c) get your fake money handed back to you.
Posted: Tue Oct 05, 2004.   Comments (3)

False Alert — Normally I ignore things like bomb hoaxes, but this one was too good to pass up. Security officials at Mackay Airport went on high alert and evacuated the terminal when a "rubbish bin started humming furiously." Upon inspection, they discovered a vibrating sex toy "emitting a lively buzzing sound" inside the trash can. A sheepish 26-year-old man stepped forward and admitted the device was his. He had thrown it away before boarding because he didn't want to go through security with it.…
Posted: Mon Oct 04, 2004.   Comments (5)

Preparing for Emergencies — The British government recently put up a website, preparingforemergencies.gov.uk, filled with advice (most of it fairly obvious) on what to do in case of an emergency. In response York University student Thomas Scott put up this website, preparingforemergencies.co.uk, that looks almost identical but instead offers advice on what to do in situations such as being attacked by a zombie (destroy their brain), or alien invasion (negotiate using sign language). Anyone can see that Scott's…
Posted: Fri Jul 30, 2004.   Comments (0)

Fake Washing Suds — Consumers in England have been alerted to be on the lookout for fake washing suds. Rogue boxes of 'Bold 2in1' are masquerading as the real thing. A government official is quoted as saying: "Consumers are aware of counterfeit DVDs and computer games but fake washing powder is unusual and goes to show the length that counterfeiters will go to deceive the public." I certainly wasn't aware of this problem. I think I could use washing powder for years without ever noticing that it was fake,…
Posted: Wed Jul 28, 2004.   Comments (2)

Nude Photos Required to Enter Canada — The Toronto Sun reports that exotic dancers applying for a visa to enter Canada are now expected to submit photos of themselves performing in the nude... to prove that they really are exotic dancers. Immigration lawyer Mendel Green claims that the rules are quite specific: "They can't be partially nude. If they don't have pictures in the nude, they are not going to wiggle their bottoms in Canada." This sounds very weird. Could the Toronto Sun be the victim of a joke? Are they pulling…
Posted: Tue Jul 27, 2004.   Comments (5)

Ass-Kicking Sheriff — Kristen sent in this picture of a Kern County police car bearing a decal with the motto, "We'll Kick Your Ass... And take your doughnuts too." The picture is doing the email rounds (it's been doing them for about a year) accompanied by a caption that explains: Kern County California police drove this car for 1 week before an officer noticed what the graphics company employee did on the passenger side of the car. The employee did this on his last day working for the graphics company…
Posted: Wed Jun 09, 2004.   Comments (4)

Citizens for a Murder-Free America — This is an old site, but I hadn't seen it before. It pretends to be the homepage of a lobbying group called 'Citizens for a Murder-Free America' who are campaigning for passage of 'Precrime' legislation that will help stop murders before they happen. In reality, the site is part of the publicity campaign for Steven Spielberg's movie Minority Report, which was about a future society where the police use psychics to see into the future and tell them about murders before they happen (based…
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2004.   Comments (0)

Fake Cop with Guard Sheep — I've heard of plenty of cases of people pretending to be cops, but this one takes the cake. It's the line about how "the bogus policeman used to patrol at night in company of a sheep that looks like a dog" that really boggles my mind. I'm trying to visualize a sheep that could pass for a dog, but my imagination just isn't good enough.
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2004.   Comments (2)

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