The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Scams
Magic Power System — 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…
Posted: Tue Nov 18, 2008.   Comments (10)

Buy it for my son… — 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,…
Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2008.   Comments (3)

The Museum of Fakes — 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…
Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008.   Comments (16)

Caps for Charity — 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…
Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2008.   Comments (7)


$1000 iPhone App Does Nothing — 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…
Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2008.   Comments (13)

Fake Patients — 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…
Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008.   Comments (2)

Horse Theft Scam — 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…
Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2008.   Comments (4)

Santa Claus Currency — 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…
Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008.   Comments (7)

Money-Sniffing Scam — 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…
Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008.   Comments (1)

Panhandler Earns $50/hr — 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…
Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2008.   Comments (15)

Todd Davis’s Social Security Number — Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock, claims his company offers such a high level of identity-theft protection that he's willing to advertise his own social-security number. (It's 457-55-5462.) He's that sure no one is going to be able to steal his identity. Many criminals are quite happy to take him up on the challenge. From Yahoo! News: Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity,…
Posted: Thu May 22, 2008.   Comments (11)

Operation Knot So Fast — Eighty-three people have been rounded up by federal officials in Florida and accused of participating in sham marriages. A company called All Kind Services was staging fake weddings, complete with props, so that the couples could have photographs of their "wedding day" to show officials. From the Orlando Sentinel: The four-tiered cake the newlyweds were about to cut was plastic. The glasses and plates on the reception table were empty. And the bride wore casual shoes under her wedding…
Posted: Sat May 10, 2008.   Comments (3)

Marinated Money Scam — A novel twist on the money-multiplying scam. From Reuters: A Vietnamese man in Norway lost around 35,000 dollars after he was led to believe that mixing the cash with a special liquid would double its value, Norwegian media reported Saturday... The victim of the con, who was not identified, was reportedly told by the Frenchman to leave a mixture of real cash with blank bills to marinate in a special liquid overnight, and the next morning he would have double the amount of cash at his…
Posted: Sat May 10, 2008.   Comments (8)

Priest investigated for fake exorcisms — Father Francesco Saverio Bazzoffi, a priest in Florence, is being investigated for fraud for performing "fake exorcisms." From the Catholic News Agency: Prosecutors alleged that Father Francesco Saverio Bazzoffi would “stage shows” before crowds of more than 400 people at the House of the Sainted Archangels, an organization he founded. According to prosecutors, the priest’s associates would “pretend to be possessed by demons” and Father Bazzoffi would allegedly exorcise them using…
Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008.   Comments (7)

Worms in Salad — Here's a recent example of what I call the "gross things found in food scam." The Post Tribune reports: Tiffany Vance of Merrillville and her dinner date, Christopher Egnatz of St. John, tried to make a scene Tuesday night after dining at Applebee's, but it didn't play out as the pair had planned. Servers at the crowded restaurant let the couple walk out on a $57 meal after Vance loudly complained she had found worms wriggling in her salad after the two had almost finished eating, a…
Posted: Mon Mar 10, 2008.   Comments (5)

Kaweah Nation Citizenship Scam — The Texas Attorney General has filed charges against three individuals who were running an elaborate citizenship scam. They claimed to represent the Kaweah Indian Nation, and were telling non-citizens that $400 would purchase a "tribal membership" in the Kaweah Nation. This membership supposedly carried the significant benefit of allowing them to circumvent the ordinary legalization process and entitling them to U.S. citizenship. Of course, becoming a member of an Indian tribe doesn't…
Posted: Fri Aug 24, 2007.   Comments (7)

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