The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Scams
Mail Order FlimFlam — During the 1980s, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted a program of consumer awareness designed to make people more aware of mail order fraud. Inspectors gave talks at schools, businesses, senior centers, etc., and during the presentation they showed examples of actual flimflam products that con artists had sold through the mail. Below are some of the items they displayed. (Source: Postal Life magazine - April 1986). The Vision Dieter, $19.95. These glasses had one blue and one red lens and were supposed to affect the retina of the eye in order to make food look… Continue…
Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2014.   Comments (2)

The mystery of the Great Diamond Hoax of 1871 — SFGate.com briefly tells the story of the Great Diamond Hoax of 1871, which is one of the classic scams of the nineteenth century. The lingering mystery is what exactly happened to all the money the scammers made.
Posted: Mon Apr 28, 2014.   Comments (0)

Infectious Money Scam — A new scam targeting the elderly in Italy. Well-dressed young women knock on the door and identify themselves as health department officials. They tell the elderly resident that banknotes have been contaminated with a deadly virus. They ask, "Do you have any banknotes in the house? If so, give them to us, and we will decontaminate them." One elderly woman handed the scammers over $2300. [ninemsn.com.au]
Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2014.   Comments (0)

Heltheo’s McCoy Home Health Tablet — "According to prosecutors, Leventhal told potential investors that his company, Neovision USA, Inc., had written agreements with Health Canada to provide it with "Heltheo's McCoy Home Health Tablet," a device that could quickly deliver detailed patient data to doctors. The device, prosecutors said, was apparently named after the fictional character Dr. Leonard McCoy from Star Trek." Man pleads guilty in multimillion-dollar Star Trek-inspired fraud The Vancouver Sun An Illinois man…
Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013.   Comments (0)


Witchdoctor Protest — A unique way to express frustration at having been conned: Man conned by fake witchdoctor protests in the nude standardmedia.co.ke KENYA: A middle-aged man, in his desperate attempt to stage a one-man protest, stripped in Mlolongo town. This was after it dawned on him that a fake witchdoctor had conned him Sh25,000. The long protracted mid-morning drama left shocked onlookers wagging their tongues... The money was for some concoction, which he was to collect later and smear it at the…
Posted: Sun Dec 15, 2013.   Comments (0)

Empty Force — Wikipedia defines the martial arts technique of Empty Force as "the expression of force without making physical contact." This technique claims to harness the power of qi, the "body's vital energy", enabling masters of the art to defend themselves against opponents without making physical contact. However, "Some proponents of martial arts are skeptical about demonstrations of empty force and dismiss them as tricks." Recently a Finnish empty-force master, Jukka Lampila, gave a…
Posted: Sat Dec 14, 2013.   Comments (1)

‘Help Me, I’m German!’ — UK police are warning drivers of a new scam in which fraudsters pose as stranded motorists in lay-bys, beseeching the aid of good samaritans with pleas such as, "Help me, I'm German!" The fraudsters claim that they're out of gas and have lost their wallet. But they offer gold jewelry in return for money. The scam is that the gold jewelry is fake. [cambridge-news] When I first saw the headline I thought it was going to be about people who wake up, realize they've become German, and cry…
Posted: Fri Nov 15, 2013.   Comments (3)

The Nigerian Message-In-A-Bottle Bank Scam — Warning: if you find a message in a bottle requesting your help with transferring £4,500,000 out of Nigeria, it may be a scam. Tom Fenton recently found such a message in a bottle while cycling along the Thames. It was written by Barrister Umsloppogas Adinga: Dear Friend, I am pleased that this letter has reached you safely. I was given your name as an honourable and upright person to do business with. Let me introduce myself; I am Umsloppogas Adinga a barrister working in the…
Posted: Thu Nov 07, 2013.   Comments (4)

The “Fake Dominatrix” Scam — A 35-year-old Austrian woman advertised herself as a dominatrix, promising strict discipline to clients willing to pay. It took the men who responded to her ad a week to realize that instead of getting sexy punishment, they were being made to do work around her farm (chopping wood, mowing the lawn) while dressed in black fetish gear. They were paying for the privilege of doing farm labor. [spiegel]
Posted: Wed Sep 18, 2013.   Comments (2)

Money From the Sky Scam — Two men in Dubai were offering to share a sure-fire way to get rich quick. All one had to do was buy a special juice from them and offer it to a jinn (a ghost). The juice wasn't cheap. It cost $30,000. But the jinn liked it so much, that upon receiving it he would return the favor by making $200 million rain down from the sky. However, these men made the mistake of selling their jinn-juice to an undercover police officer, who promptly arrested them. The Dubai authorities had harsh…
Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2013.   Comments (1)

Massive Louvre Ticket Scam — Parisian authorities are now warily considering the possibility that thousands of Chinese tourists might be getting into the Louvre for free, after Belgian customs officials discovered fake Louvre tickets that were "perfect clones" of genuine tickets in a package sent from China. Though I assume the tourists paid someone for the tickets. They just paid the wrong person. [BBC News]
Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2013.   Comments (0)

Maleek Seeks Help — Nairobi singer Moses Kamunya (aka Maleek) posted on facebook that his daughter had died. Sympathetic friends then sent him money to help with the funeral costs. But when people showed up at the mother's house for the funeral, (the mother being the Maleek's former girlfriend), she hit the roof because her daughter was still very much alive. Maleek now explains that "the devil had misled him." However, he doesn't seem quite ready to return the money. Apparently Maleek is fairly well…
Posted: Fri Aug 23, 2013.   Comments (0)

No Monkey — Call this the Cameroon Monkey Scam. The scammers bait victims online with the promise of a budget-priced monkey. Only $50. So you send in your money. But then, oh, by the way, you also need to pay for a cage, as well as a monkey license, and shots. By the time it's all over you've spent hundreds of dollars. A Battle Creek, Michigan woman fell for the scam. Finally she went to the police who told her, sorry, you've lost your money and you're not getting a monkey. [wzzm13]
Posted: Wed Aug 21, 2013.   Comments (1)

Motor Trip Hoax, 1944 — I found the following story posted in the March 3, 1944 issue of the Carteret Press (scanned and hosted by the Woodbridge, NJ Public Library): MOTOR TRIP HOAX Los Angeles — A new kind of hoax was pulled when four men answered an ad asking for passengers on a trip to Raleigh, N.C. The driver picked them up, collected $50 from each and then stopped at the post office. He went inside and that was the last the passengers saw of him. The car had been rented. But I'm having trouble…
Posted: Tue Mar 12, 2013.   Comments (4)

Prof. Humbolt’s Electric-Light Fluid Scam, 1896 — I came across the above complaint in Gleanings in Bee Culture (1896). It seems that a door-to-door salesman was going around selling something he called "Prof. Humbolt's Electric-Light Fluid," which had absolutely nothing to do with electricity or electric lighting. The term "electric" was thrown into just about every product name back then to make products sound more scientific and modern. As far as I can tell from the description, this "electric-light fluid" was a powder (not a…
Posted: Thu Jan 31, 2013.   Comments (1)

Fake Chippendales Scam — Recently the "202 Market" bar in Roanoke, VA advertised that it was going to be hosting the famous Chippendales dancers. But soon it had to retract its announcement and admit that it had fallen victim to a scam. It had been deceived by a group of frauds posing as the Chippendales — Chippenfakes, you might call them. [roanoke.com] Apparently the Roanoke bar isn't alone in falling for this scam. Kevin Denberg, manager of the real Chippendales, warns that there are a number of fraudulent…
Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2012.   Comments (5)

The Great Emu Scam of 2012 — Indian newspapers are reporting the exposure of a major scam involving emu farming. Thousands of people were promised that in return for a modest investment in an emu farm, they soon would be earning thousands of rupees every month. They were led to believe this on the basis of the supposedly massive demand for emu meat and emu-oil cosmetics. The scam was exposed when investors realized that their monthly payments were failing to materialize. [thehindu.com, indiatimes.com]
Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2012.   Comments (2)

Earn Money Working at Home—Become an Envelope Elf! — The consumer affairs office of the state of Massachusetts has created a series of phony websites designed to teach people how to avoid online scams. The sites advertise products such as work-at-home deals, weight-loss products, and free trips. If anyone tries to order something from these sites, they're directed to a page identifying it as a scam and telling them how they could have spotted the scam. My favorite one is the "Envelope Elf" site. The SEC did something similar back in…
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012.   Comments (1)

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)

Marl the Stock-Picking Robot — Accipiter already posted about this in the forum, but the story is odd enough that it deserves to be on the front page. Back in 2007, two teenage twins from North Tyneside, Alexander and Thomas Hunter, began selling a stock newsletter in which they recommended stocks supposedly selected by an AI robot named Marl. Investors could also pay to get advice through a variety of websites run by the twins, daytradingrobot.com, doublingstocks.com, and equitypromoter.com. Or would-be…
Posted: Mon Apr 23, 2012.   Comments (0)

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