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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Scams
The Fake Acai Berry Diet Girl
Posted by The Curator on Wed Mar 25, 2009
Following up on Accipiter's post in the forum about the Acai berry weight-loss scam -- one of the interesting (and sleazy) things about the scam is the proliferation of fake diet blogs promoting these Acai berries. The sites go by names such as kirstensweightloss.com, rachelsweightloss.com, patdietblog.com, etc. etc. The sites have before and after pictures of the Acai berry dieters, but pictures of the same women appear on different sites... under different names. For instance, the woman below, depending on which site you visit, is named Kirsten Hunt, Ann Conrad, Daniella Conrad, Jenna Patterson, and a bunch of other names.
Categories: Food, Scams, Websites Comments (31)
The psychic and the anti-negativity statue
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 13, 2009
Another case of a victim so stupid they probably deserved to be swindled. When asked why his client continued to pay thousands of dollars to a psychic who promised to build him a gold "anti-negativity" statue, Charles Silveira's lawyer explained, "She gave him positive feedback for him to believe in her representations of what she was saying." Of course she gave him positive feedback, because all the guy's money ($247,850 in total) had worked an anti-negativity charm on her. Link: NJ.com.
Categories: Scams Comments (2)
New phishing scam merges physical and virtual worlds
Posted by The Curator on Thu Feb 05, 2009
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 more than sending out emails. Link: Grand Forks Herald.
Categories: Law/Police/Crime, Scams Comments (6)
Scams in the News
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 19, 2008
I'm sure everyone has heard by now of Bernard Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi Scheme, which is being described as the biggest scam in Wall Street history. It's already old news. So here are some other scam-related links: • Slate offers a brief Guide to Financial Scams, explaining the difference between a Ponzi Scheme and a Pyramid Scheme. (Ponzi schemes funnel money to a single person; pyramid schemes distribute the money among a larger group of people.) • The Wall Street Journal tells the story of the Ponzi Scheme that wiped out the fortune of President Ulysses S. Grant. • It doesn't compare to Madoff, but…
Categories: Scams Comments (1)
Don’t buy diamonds in a Wal-Mart parking lot
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 21, 2008
Here's one for the "If you're this stupid, you deserve to be conned" file: The victim encounters two people in a Wal-Mart parking lot who are engaging in a transaction involving a diamond. The buyer (a man) offers the seller (a woman) $20,000 for the diamond. A normal person would think, "This is an odd location to be having this kind of transaction." Instead, the victim asks if she can buy a diamond also, and gets $1900 from the bank to pay for it. Surprise! She later discovers the diamond is fake. Link: Recordnet.com
Categories: Con Artists, Scams Comments (2)
Magic Power System
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 18, 2008
We've seen quite a few dubious devices that claim to enhance the performance and mileage of automobiles. The BioPerformance pills come to mind. However, the Magic Power System (aka MPS Power Shift Bar) is something special because it's a product that's not even vaguely plausible. It's on sale on eBay UK for the low buy-it-now price of £34.99 (about $52). All you do is plug it into the lighter socket of your car, and here's the improvements you will see: enhance fuel efficiency - saves gasoline (10-30%)increase engine torque - increase power (2-5ps)reduce car emissions - contribute to the environment unconsciouslyimprove car audio soundsthe small device cleans the entire car electrically including…
Categories: Scams, Technology Comments (10)
Buy it for my son…
Posted by The Curator on Mon Nov 10, 2008
Sleazy scam artist trick: Find a picture of a dead soldier. Post the picture in a craiglist ad for a used car. Say the soldier is your dead son. "All I want is to find the right person... who'll love and take care of this car in the same way he did. I'd like to make a person very happy and to light a candle for my son once in a while." From cbc.ca: It is common for scam artists to pair photos of real soldiers, police and firefighters with fake stories, said Larry Gamache, communications director for CARFAX,…
Categories: Scams Comments (3)
The Museum of Fakes
Posted by The Curator on Wed Oct 01, 2008
The BBC reports that a 60-year-old Korean man has been arrested for running "a private museum stuffed with fakes." He bought cheap artifacts from flea markets and then displayed them as ancient treasures. He claimed one of his fakes was a "Koryo Dynasty celadon." All in all, he managed to earn $443,000 from this scam through ticket sales. Two things occur to me: 1) So people are assuming that most museums aren't full of fakes? The dirty little secret of the worlds of art and archaeology is that they're awash in fakes. And even when a museum owns the genuine artifact, it might not display the real thing for security reasons.
Categories: History, Scams Comments (16)
Caps for Charity
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 03, 2008
Another case of the Collecting Junk for Charity hoax. Aleta Brace of Parkersburg, West Virginia collected 20,000 bottle caps, believing that the caps could be redeemed for money which would aid cancer patients. And she wasn't alone. Churches, schools, businesses, and individuals throughout West Virginia have been collecting the bottle caps all summer. The caps would all have gone to waste, but now the Aveda skin care company has announced it'll take the caps and recycle them into new caps for its products.
$1000 iPhone App Does Nothing
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 11, 2008
Customers at Apple's online iPhone store recently had the opportunity to buy a program called "I Am Rich." True to its name, it cost $999.99. The program, created by Armin Heinrich, a German software developer, displayed a large red ruby on the iPhone's screen. And that's it. Nothing else. The product description read: "The red icon on your iPhone always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were able to afford this. It's a work of art with no hidden function at all." Eight people actually purchased the program before…
Categories: Pranks, Scams, Technology Comments (13)
Fake Patients
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 08, 2008
The Associated Press reports that the FBI has started cracking down on a widespread insurance scam in which hospitals fill up their beds with homeless people posing as patients, and then charge government programs for the costs. Hospitals in Los Angeles and Orange counties submitted phony Medicare and Medi-Cal bills for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of homeless patients — including drug addicts and the mentally ill — recruited from downtown's Skid Row, state and federal authorities allege. While treating minor problems that did not require hospitalization, such as dehydration, exhaustion or yeast infections, the hospitals allegedly kept homeless patients…
Categories: Health/Medicine, Scams Comments (2)
Horse Theft Scam
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Horse thievery used to be a huge problem. After the American Civil War it became so rampant in the West that it inspired the creation of a vigilante group that called itself the Anti Horse Thief Association. This group had, at one point, 30,000 members. But horse theft is something I thought became obsolete with the widespread adoption of automobiles. Apparently not. Authorities in Tennessee are warning of a modern-day horse theft scam. People are showing up at farms claiming to be from Horse Haven (a humane organization for horses). They say they're there to take away the horses. Horse Haven does occasionally seize horses, if the horses are being neglected or harmed,…
Categories: Animals, Con Artists, Scams Comments (4)
Santa Claus Currency
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 17, 2008
The Daily Record reports on a stupid counterfeit scheme that almost worked: A FORGER convinced a cashier a £20 note was real - despite Santa Claus and his reindeer being on it. Stacey Rice's self-made Santa Christmas Bank note promised to pay the bearer nothing and listed Santa as the bank's "chief operating officer" with his address as the North Pole. But Rice, 27, was still able to pass it off as genuine in an "astonishing" scam, a court heard. She duped a gullible cashier at a gym and the woman gave Rice change of the £20 in smaller…
Categories: Business/Finance, Scams Comments (7)
Money-Sniffing Scam
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 10, 2008
A man posing as a deputy stole nearly $1000 from an Ohio couple by telling them they had to hand over the money so that his dog could sniff it for drug residue. From AP News: the fake deputy knocked on the Waverly, Ohio, couple's motel room door last week. The man told the couple a drug raid just happened next door and a police dog needed to sniff all of their money. Kuzinsky says the couple handed over the money and the fake deputy got into a small gray car and drove off. Kuzinsky says the man flashed…
Categories: Scams Comments (1)
Panhandler Earns $50/hr
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jun 10, 2008
A Salt Lake City news station exposes a panhandling scam. Or, rather, one panhandler scammer -- a young woman who leaves her parents' house every morning to stand on a street corner and beg for money. She tells people she was kicked out by her boyfriend just a week before Christmas and she's trying to earn enough to buy a bus ticket back to Seattle: It reminded me of Alan Abel's long-running "School for Beggars" hoax, from the 1970s and 80s. He claimed to be running a school that taught people how to panhandle professionally. The media, of course, ate it up because…
Categories: Scams Comments (15)
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