Hoax Museum Blog: Law/Police/Crime

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)

UK Legal Urban Legends — 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…
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2012.   Comments (4)

Don’t give me a ticket, Officer. I’m about to give birth! — 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…
Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2012.   Comments (0)

The Great Tide Crime Wave — 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…
Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2012.   Comments (6)


Clay iPads — 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!
Posted: Fri Jan 20, 2012.   Comments (1)

Manhattan School Employees Behaving Badly — 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…
Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2012.   Comments (0)

Parents of Balloon Boy receive their sentence — 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
Posted: Wed Dec 23, 2009.   Comments (6)

The Snail in the Ginger Beer — 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…
Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009.   Comments (2)

Should privacy laws protect murderers? — 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…
Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009.   Comments (11)

Rescue Dummy, Get Robbed — 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
Posted: Fri Nov 06, 2009.   Comments (0)

Man Sues Over Lack of Axe Effect — 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…
Posted: Mon Nov 02, 2009.   Comments (2)

Perverted Big Brother — Nine Turkish women thought they had signed up to participate in a reality show. Instead, they had fallen into the clutches of a pornographer, who kept them imprisoned for two months while selling naked photos of them on the internet. "The women were not abused or harassed sexually. They were told however, to fight each other, to wear bikinis and dance by villa's pool." Turkish police finally realized what was going on and freed them. [msnbc.com]
Posted: Thu Sep 10, 2009.   Comments (1)

Thieves steal fake phones — Not the brightest thieves in the world: Employees at a Telefonica Movistar cell-phone store in Morelia, Mexico say they arrived Tuesday morning to find that the store had been broken into. An examination of the shop revealed the only items missing were hollow replica phones for display that are completely useless for making calls. Employees say the clueless thieves overlooked real cell phones and cash in another part of the shop.[Associated Press]
Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009.   Comments (2)

Hello Kitty Taser — The Hello Kitty Taser raised the ire of Justin Yu at CNET who wrote: The existence of this Hello Kitty taser gun makes me want to open it up and point it at my head. You have to question the intentions of these designers...is the gun supposed to make little girls less fearful about attacking their in-store competition? Maybe it's meant to fool criminals into thinking their victims are unarmed, only to be met with 50,000 volts of adorable electricity. Only subsequently did he realize…
Posted: Tue Jul 07, 2009.   Comments (9)

Fake Chinese ‘Made in India’ Garments sold in Nigeria — The commerce department of India is considering filing a formal diplomatic complaint against China because of Chinese garments being sold in Nigeria with fake "Made in India" tags. I'm sure it's a serious diplomatic matter, but if you could just somehow add a Russian gangster and a Spanish prisoner into the mix, you'd have a perfect storm of scam artists. [Economic Times]
Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009.   Comments (4)

The Jiffy Prank — Apparently there's a tradition of past employees of Jiffy Lube breaking into the store and stealing the bleeder valve on the compressor, thus rendering the machine useless. It's called the "Jiffy prank." At least, that's the excuse Paul Marvella is giving to explain why he took the valve. He later returned it, but nevertheless the store is charging him with felony commercial burglary. [Hernando Today]
Posted: Wed Jun 24, 2009.   Comments (3)

Honesty Cafes — As part of an ongoing effort to battle a culture of corruption, the Indonesian government is opening Honesty Cafes, designed to teach people the value of honesty. Snacks and drinks are available, and you pay on the honor system, putting your money into a clear plastic box. From the NY Times: The attorney general’s office says the honesty cafes will nip in the bud corrupt tendencies among the young and straighten out those known for indulging in corrupt practices, starting with civil…
Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2009.   Comments (5)

Barbecued Cats? — After receiving a complaint that some residents of a Houston apartment complex were barbecuing stray cats, the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control investigated but determined the complaint was a hoax. But their conclusion isn't that reassuring, because after analyzing bone fragments from nearby dumpsters, the bureau did find that "There are animals that have been consumed that are similar to the size and structure of a cat." So, if not cats, what were these animals that were…
Posted: Thu Jun 18, 2009.   Comments (11)

Burglar chews through steel bars — A news story (credited to the Chongqing Business Daily) is circulating about a recently apprehended burglar whose method of operation was to gain access to homes by chewing through steel window bars. From Ananova: Detectives in Nanjimen region, Chongqing, were puzzled by continuous reports of break-ins through caged windows. "Through our investigations, we found the grids had been cut but with deep tooth prints," a local police spokesman told the Chongqing Business Daily. Eventually,…
Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009.   Comments (1)

Frivolous (fake) lawsuits — The Lebanon Daily News confesses to coming down with a bad case of the Gullibility Virus. In a recent article they whipped themselves into a state of righteous indignation about a series of frivolous lawsuits. They had read about the lawsuits in an email. (Best part: they titled the article "Sad but true"). A reader later wrote to them: Austin woman awarded $80,000 for tripping over her own son in store? Fabricated. Los Angeles man trying to steal hubcap gets $74,000 when target…
Posted: Wed Jun 10, 2009.   Comments (14)

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