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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Law/Police/Crime
Man prosecuted for photoshopping — Over in Zimbabwe they treat photoshopping as a serious offense, especially if you decide to photoshop your head onto the body of Robert Mugage, as graphic designer Ronald Chikambure allegedly did. The official charge against him was "undermining the authority of the President." Apparently detectives were tipped off that Chikambure was displaying said photoshopped picture on the wall of his office, so they raided his office. They didn't find the picture on the wall, but they did find a…
Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2013.   Comments (0)

The Disappearance of Matthew Robillard — Sounds like the guy got tired of his old life and decided to disappear and start a new one. Matthew Robillard's Lethbridge Disappearance A Hoax: Police huffingtonpost.ca Police in southern Alberta say the disappearance of a young family man late last week was a hoax. Matthew Aaron Robillard's relatives called police Thursday when the 25-year-old Lethbridge man failed to show up for work at a Scotiabank in nearby Picture Butte. His car was later discovered with a smashed window in an…
Posted: Thu Feb 07, 2013.   Comments (1)

Petty theft as a “social experiment” — From the Bad Excuse file: A New Jersey couple was arrested for stealing outdoor table umbrellas from restaurants around Basking Ridge. They didn't deny taking the umbrellas, but they said it was all for a good reason. You see, it was part of a "social experiment." They were doing a documentary on "doing the right thing." They even had a manila folder with them full of notes about the project. But apparently they hadn't thought through what was going to happen when witnesses "did the…
Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2012.   Comments (0)

A Phony Yacht Explosion, and Other New Jersey Emergency Hoaxes — Last Monday, the Coast Guard received a distress call reporting that a yacht had exploded. Twenty-one people were said to be floating in rafts 17 miles off the New Jersey shore, and at least three were believed to be dead. A massive rescue operation was launched. But the Coast Guard soon realized that the call was a hoax. It turns out that New Jersey has quite a long history of hoax calls to emergency service providers. The New Jersey Star-Ledger has compiled a list of the most…
Posted: Mon Jun 18, 2012.   Comments (0)


The Old Potato/Laptop Switcheroo Scam — I'm assuming the scammers must stuff the potatoes inside a laptop box. Otherwise I'm not sure how they convince their victims to walk away with a bag of potatoes instead of a laptop. Manchester police appeal over potato laptop fraud bbc.co.uk Police say at least four people have been approached by two men offering to sell them a laptop or iPhone. One man paid up to £1,400 and walked away with a rucksack full of potatoes. Other victims received bottles of soft drinks. Police said the…
Posted: Wed May 16, 2012.   Comments (0)

Notice to Thieves, Thugs, Fakirs and Bunko-Steerers — Warning notice posted in Las Vegas, New Mexico, March 24, 1882. Had to post it because I love the term "Bunko-Steerers". From New Mexico's Digital Collections (via Kate Nelson).
Posted: Thu May 10, 2012.   Comments (0)

Cop Convention at Donutland — I'm not sure how old this image is, but it must be 15 or 20 years old at least. It's been circulating online for as long as I can remember. It's one of those images that's become a staple on humor sites, but people don't often pause to ask about the details of it: is the picture real? Where was it taken? And if it is real, what were all those cops doing there? Were they really all on a donut break? Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out very much about the picture. Although I…
Posted: Thu May 03, 2012.   Comments (2)

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: Thu Jul 09, 2009.   Comments (2)

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