The Hoax Museum Blog
The Great Emu Scam of 2012
Posted by The Curator on Sun Aug 12, 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]
Earn Money Working at Home—Become an Envelope Elf!
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 18, 2012
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 2002. It created a hoax site for McWhortle Enterprises, Inc. The idea was to teach investors that just because a company has a website, that doesn't mean…
The Old Potato/Laptop Switcheroo Scam
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 16, 2012
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 conmen spoke with an Eastern European accent.
Marl the Stock-Picking Robot
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 23, 2012
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 millionaires could get a version of Marl to run on their computer at home. The brothers advertised that "The longer Marl is allowed to run on a computer… The More Advanced He Becomes!" The reality: Marl didn't…
Scammers vs. lawyers vs. bankers
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 11, 2012
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 firm's help to collect a settlement... In his suit, Robert Milavetz argues that Wells Fargo & Co. should have recognized the red flags involved.
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 20, 2012
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!
UST Development Phony Invoice Scam
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 06, 2011
Over the weekend I received the following letter in the mail from UST Development, Inc.: I had no idea who this company was, or why I owed them money. Nevertheless, my first reaction was to assume that the invoice must somehow be related to one of the contractors I've had work on my house during the past year -- and that I should therefore probably pay it. But then my more suspicious instincts kicked in, and I decided to google the company. The first result that popped up was scaminformer.com, on which quite a few people were reporting having received the identical letter -- even though…
Fake Salvation Army Bell Ringers
Posted by The Curator on Thu Dec 17, 2009
Police are warning that a fake Salvation Army bell ringer is on the loose in Topeka, Kansas: The "freelance ringer," as Yockey termed the man, had worked for the Salvation Army for the holiday season but began to show up late for his shifts. Then, the day before he was fired, the man placed a Santa hat atop his red kettle and told passersby that the kettle was full and to place money in the hat. He was then fired. But on Sunday, when ringers don't work but many of the racks holding the kettles are still…
The Con Artist Hall of Infamy
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jul 06, 2009
A new site debuted three days ago: The Con Artist Hall of Infamy. It's tagline is: Finally there is a place to induct the champions of greed and deception. As interesting as the site itself is the fact that it's being bankrolled by two billionaires, Warren Hellman and Arthur Rock, who decided that there needed to be a site devoted to offering the big picture on fraudsters and con artists. Billionaires with an interest in promoting knowledge about the history of deception! In my fantasies someone like that offers to bankroll…
Fake Chinese ‘Made in India’ Garments sold in Nigeria
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 24, 2009
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]
Snake Head with Broccoli
Posted by The Curator on Mon May 11, 2009
The latest case of the gross things found in food scam: A man dining at TGI Friday's claimed he found a rotting snake head in his side order of broccoli. But testing has now revealed that the snake's head was never cooked and must have been placed in the broccoli at some point after the cooking process. So foul play is now suspected. The guy who found the head claims he didn't put it there, and since he isn't suing the restaurant, he may be telling the truth.
Pigeon Drop Scam Becomes Robbery
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 17, 2009
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]
Another Cancer Hoaxer
Posted by The Curator on Wed Apr 15, 2009
Dallas, Texas is home to the latest case of Munchausen Syndrome. Hope Ybarra managed to raise $100,000 by convincing an entire community that she was dying of cancer. She even fooled her family. Apparently the ruse went on for years. To their credit, once her family found out she wasn't really sick they put an end to the entire thing and are offering to return everyone's money. [Yahoo! Video]
Fake death and fake funeral
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 09, 2009
Faye Shilling is accused of not only buying life insurance policies for people who didn't exist, but also of holding fake funerals for their (fake) deaths. She would fill the casket with "various materials" to make it the right weight, then bury it. And then, because she was afraid authorities would somehow later find an empty casket, she would file fake documents to indicate the body had been exhumed and then file more fake documents to show it had been cremated. [Daily Breeze]
Reusing your hotel towels: sensible behavior or scam?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Apr 07, 2009
Jill Hunter Pellettieri writes in Slate.com about how she hates those notices you now find in all the hotels asking you to re-use your towels in order to "Save Our Planet." Like her, I find them to be disingenuous. The real beneficiaries are the hotels, not the environment, because the hotels save lots of money on laundry costs, and they don't bother to pass those cost-savings along to the customers. [slate.com]