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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
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: Thu Jul 09, 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: Wed Jul 08, 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: Thu Jun 11, 2009.   Comments (14)

Fooled by Crunchberries — This case sounded so stupid to me that at first I thought it had to be a joke, but here's the actual ruling, Sugawara v. PepsiCo, Inc., so apparently it's true. Janine Sugawara filed suit against PepsiCo, maker of Cap'n Crunch's CrunchBerries, alleging she had been deceived by their marketing into believing that crunchberries were real fruit, only to learn, to her dismay, that the product contained "no berries of any kind." The judge threw the case out, noting, "The survival of the…
Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2009.   Comments (10)

The Bonnie Sweeten Abduction Hoax — Philadelphia Mom Bonnie Sweeten had apparently been embezzling money from a charity where she worked for years. Fearing that she was about to be found out, she fled to Orlando with her daughter, but not before concocting a hoax about being abducted by two black men who rear-ended her SUV. (She placed a call to 911, pretending she was locked in the trunk of the black men's car.) I guess the hoax was intended to cover her tracks, but I'm not sure if it didn't simply increase police…
Posted: Fri May 29, 2009.   Comments (2)

Moms Behaving Badly — A dispute between two young girls escalated into an online fight between the mothers. The mother of one of the girls posted an ad on Craigslist offering sex with men, and listed the phone number of the other girl's mother as the contact. Twenty-two people called the number. The woman has now been charged with aggravated harrassment. [Newsday]
Posted: Mon May 11, 2009.   Comments (2)

Pigeon Drop Scam Becomes Robbery — There's a report of a pigeon drop scam in which the scammers approached a woman at an ATM and tried to convince her to buy a diamond (that was supposedly such a bargain that she'd easily make a profit if she resold it). But in this case the scammers got tired of haggling with her and eventually just grabbed her money and ran. Which means that the scammers are now guilty of grand theft. [Mercury News]
Posted: Fri Apr 17, 2009.   Comments (6)

Domino’s Video Prank — One of the mysteries of law enforcement in the age of YouTube: Why do people proudly post videos of themselves engaged in illegal acts? They're just begging to have the police come knocking on their door. So anyway, the latest example of video self-incrimination involves two Domino's employees who created a prank video showing one of them farting on the food and sticking it up his nose as the other one laughed and egged him on. They posted the video on YouTube and it promptly went…
Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009.   Comments (4)

Cash Stops Bullet — Mythbusters did an episode on the urban legend of a bullet being stopped by a Bible (or a Zippo lighter). They found that a hardcover book of at least 400 pages might stop a bullet, but anything less (including a Zippo) didn't have a chance. Nevertheless, police in Sao Paulo, Brazil are saying that the wad of cash a woman had stuffed in her bra slowed down a bullet enough to save her life. I'm sure the woman is very lucky, but I suspect the cash had nothing to do with her good fortune.[Yahoo!]
Posted: Wed Apr 15, 2009.   Comments (13)

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