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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
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)

Neighborhood dispute gets ugly — The term Neighbor From Hell seems an appropriate one for Julie Rank-Earley. Her neighbor once filed a police complaint about her, resulting in a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Instead of letting the issue drop, Rank-Earley decided to up the ante by subscribing to hundreds of dollars worth of pornographic magazines in the name of her neighbor. Her neighbor simply complained to the police again when she started getting all the bills. Now Rank-Earley is sitting in jail. [Dayton…
Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2009.   Comments (1)

Bathroom stall robbery — It's safe to use the bathroom again. Two weeks ago a New York man said he was robbed in a bathroom stall in the Atlanta airport. He was just sitting there, doing his business, when two men poked their heads "over the top of the stall," pointed a silver handgun at him, and demanded his wallet. Police have now determined the robbery report was a hoax. [AJC.com]
Posted: Mon Apr 06, 2009.   Comments (2)

If you don’t show a weapon, is it really a robbery? — Police say that a man, alone in a car, drove up to a teller window at the Lone Star National Bank in Texas. He slipped the teller a note. Exactly what it said has not been revealed, but it caused the teller to hand him an undetermined amount of cash. He then drove away. At no point did the man display a weapon. Big Gary asks: But if you just say, "Give me money," and you don't display a weapon, and you aren't in any position to hurt anybody, it's not really a robbery, it's a gift,…
Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2009.   Comments (11)

New phishing scam merges physical and virtual worlds — Police in Grand Forks, Michigan North Dakota report that people are finding fake parking tickets on their cars that direct them to go to horribleparking.com to view information about standard parking regulations. When they visit the site, a virus is downloaded onto their computer. It's not clear what the virus does, but it seems like a pretty elaborate way to infect someone's computer. Also, an expensive way. Printing fake tickets and paying someone to distribute them has to cost a lot…
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009.   Comments (6)

Immigrants devise creative methods of hiding — Two cases of illegal immigrants finding unusual methods of sneaking into countries have recently been in the news: Case #1: U.S. border police found 13 illegal immigrants inside a fake Budweiser beer van. Case #2: British authorities found four illegal immigrants hiding inside a 32-foot-tall fake Christmas tree in the back of a truck. The tree was made of aluminum and nylon, and had been ordered for a town center display.
Posted: Wed Nov 26, 2008.   Comments (1)

Fake Cocaine — On June 4 Steven Decker of Muscatine, Iowa sold a white powder to an undercover agent. He said it was cocaine, but it wasn't. It was fake cocaine. In the eyes of the law, this doesn't let him off the hook. He's being charged with "delivery of a simulated controlled substance" and is looking at up to ten years in prison and $50,000 in fines. I'm sure Decker is not exactly a boy-scout, but being charged for selling fake cocaine is a curious concept. Added irony: he was selling a…
Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008.   Comments (10)

Your classmates aren’t looking for you — Classmates.com told Anthony Michaels that former classmates were looking for him. If only he would upgrade to a premium membership, they would put him in touch with his school buddies. So Michaels paid the money. Then he discovered that no one was looking for him. Now he's brought a class-action suit against classmates.com for deceptive advertising. There's a fine line in advertising between what's legal and what's not. "Puffery," which is defined as making exaggerated claims that the…
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2008.   Comments (15)

Fleeing Purse Snatcher Drops Breast — Police in Port St. Lucie are on the lookout for a cross-dressing purse snatcher who accidentally dropped a condom filled with water after grabbing a 74-year-old woman's purse. He had been using the condom as a fake breast. That's weird enough. What I can't understand is why he was using a water-filled condom. Wouldn't a regular balloon have worked better? Though questioning the fashion decisions of a cross-dressing purse snatcher is surely an exercise in pointlessness.
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2008.   Comments (6)

Two Stupid Criminals — Desperate for free porn A man entered an adult novelty store, told the clerk that he was a detective with the Longmont Police Department's "age verification unit," and demanded that the clerk provide him with pornographic videos so that he could verify the ages of the actors in them. The Longmont Police have no age verification unit. The clerk turned him away, and then the manager called the real police. (Thanks, Bob!) Cheesecake Box Bomb A man entered a movie rental store, placed a…
Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008.   Comments (4)

The Knoxville Carjacking Party — According to internet rumor, Britney Spears is planning to star in a movie titled The Knoxville Carjacking Party, based on the brutal 2007 murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. Spears would play Channon Christian. The story is a hoax. More specifically, it's a case of satire mistaken as news, having apparently originated as a faux news report from "celebrity snitch, Clarence Star" on the site Ghetto Bragging Rights. Wayne Bledsoe, a columnist for Knoxnews.com, notes that…
Posted: Tue Aug 05, 2008.   Comments (4)

Fake Foot — I'm still catching up on all the recent hoaxes... So here's another one that a lot of people have emailed me about. The fake foot that washed up on a beach in British Columbia. Five human feet have washed up on beaches in British Columbia during the past year, generating a lot of media interest. After all, who do these feet belong to? It's a mystery. But a sixth foot that washed up turned out to be a hoax. From ctv.ca: A sixth foot believed to have washed ashore on Vancouver Island…
Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2008.   Comments (5)

Thieves Steal Fake Money — Thieves used a hammer to break open a plexiglass box being used as a Drop-A-Note donation box in the Kentucky Theatre's lobby, and they stole the money inside. Unfortunately for the thieves, the money they took was fake. From kentucky.com: "It's sad when idiots can't tell fake money from the real thing," said Steve Brown, president of Kentucky's Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ Project, a group dedicated to restoring a Wurlitzer organ and returning it to the Kentucky. Proceeds from the…
Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008.   Comments (1)

An email from SueEasy — This morning I received an email from SueEasy, a website about which I've posted previously: Hi, This is Andrew Richards, Manager Operations at SueEasy.com We would like to express our discontentment regarding your entry about our company: http://hoaxes.org/weblog/permalink/sue_easy/ We are NOT a hoax of any kind. We have several respected law firms and attorneys signed up with our service & we were hand picked by Michael Arrington (
Posted: Mon Jun 16, 2008.   Comments (15)

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