Fraud and Deception

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Fiddle File #3

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #3

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

Maine: Free groceries if you’re over sixty. Whoops, sorry, no free lunch, just hustlers phishing for personal info.

Everywhere: It’s called “pet-flipping.” Your dog is lost or stolen. Watch for it for sale on Craigslist and probably other classifieds.

Kansas: Pranksters toilet paper this guy’s house, he isn’t happy, shotguns the neighborhood.

Florida, California, Arizona, etc.: This one is called “swoop and squat,” the auto in front of you jams on the brakes, the one behind collides with you. One of several collision scams.

China: Fabricate a terrorist threat, win up to five years in a Chinese jail that probably lacks the comforts of home.

California: The water company employee needs to check your house for pollution. Hint: The public water company isn’t responsible for checking water problems inside your home.

Everywhere: You search for sites featuring Lily Collins. Your reward? A computer loaded with malware. Other dangerous searches noted by McAfee security firm, in order: Avril Lavigne, Sandra Bullock, Kathy Griffith, Zoe Saldana, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Jon Hamm, Adriana Lima and Emma Roberts.


Spotted a hoax or scam deserving mention in our next roundup? We’d be happy to hear from you at Art of the Prank. You might save some reader a heap of hurting (or give them wild ideas for their next fiddle).


Ask the Fiddler #9: Obamacare Spawns a Slew of Scams

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


Dear Fiddler:

Have they set up the death panels that will be part of Obamacare, deciding who lives and who dies?

Rodney in Shreveport

Dear Rodney,

whitehouse.200Yes. And the panels are made up of radical liberal Democrats with Fu Manchu beards, dressed in white frocks, huddled over complicated charts, chanting and tossing chicken bones to decide the fates of vulnerable victims of Obamacare. Those victims will be mostly rightwing Republicans, of course. It is their fate to suffer from conspiracies.

Well, back here on planet Earth. Sorry, big disappointment, I’ve searched high and low and can find no evidence of death panels.

As best as I can figure, the whole crazy idea seems to be a mad-dog rightwing conspiracy theory concocted to counter a Big Mother Government health-nazi plot. Something like that. (more…)

Fiddle File #2

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File #2

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

scream-197Los Angeles: Quality medical care … The surgeon pranks your face while you are under anesthesia.

Tennessee: Children At Play… Torching neighborhood sewers.

San Francisco Bay Area: Clear the house, we’re from the government, inspecting for poisonous snakes (and stealing anything of value).

Disney World: Pardon us, we’re heading for the front of the line with our hire-the-handicapped helper.

Nationwide: You’re due a bundle in unclaimed cash, just give us all your personal info. Story is from Vegas but the scam is running around the country.

Colorado: It’s the old jump screaming from the closet prank. Bang! You’re d-e-a-d.

St. Louis: Here’s a tip … You’ll never see the whopping big tip the insanely generous customer scribbled on the bill.

Nationwide: Wrap your car with ads while we empty your bank account. This report is from California but it’s happening wherever the hustlers find a willing victim.

Florida: Flush with cash? Don’t invest in toilet fans.

Spotted a hoax or scam deserving mention in our next roundup? We’d be happy to hear from you Art of the Prank. You might save some reader a heap of hurting (or give them wild ideas for their next fiddle).

Miss World: Out of This World?

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception

Just who is Rakhima Ganieva? Miss Uzbekistan mystery at Miss World competition in Indonesia
News Limited Network
September 14, 2013

Rakhima Ganieva, an 18-year-old beauty from Tashkent, has set a cat among the pigeons at this year’s Miss World competition.

rakhima-ganieva-425

Ganieva drew attention in her home country when she was named Uzbekistan’s first-ever representative in the Miss World competition, which began this week in Indonesia. But officials in Tashkent say they have no idea who she is.

Radio Free Europe report both the Uzbek Culture and Sports Ministry and Uzbekistan’s national committee on women say they have no knowledge of Ganieva’s partipation in the Miss World contest, adding their nation does not have a contest to select a Miss Uzbekistan.

According to the Miss World official website, Miss Ganieva was born and raised in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, “loves to play the piano” and enjoys “playing tennis, travelling, and learning history”.

She is a graduate of the Tashkent Professional College of Tourism and aspires to study law.

Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islom Karimov – with whom Ganieva has been compared – commented on Twitter that the Miss Uzbekistan representative is a “Tajik-looking girl” who “appeared out of nowhere”.

The Fiddle File: Scam Report

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


The Fiddle File

Here’s our latest survey of activity in the scamming industry, a thriving segment of the economy in these troubled times:

scream-197South Dakota: The computer security expert on the phone needs remote access to fix your computer. This one also reported from several other states.

Missouri: Victims of a tragedy need your donation.

California: You’ve placed an illegal order on-line. Send in your fine or face jail.

Illinois: In order to complete delivery, click here (a program then sucks up personal info from your computer)

Vermont: Your debit card is locked, give us needed info to have it released.

New York: We have your son and he will die if you don’t pay up now.

Georgia: Hey, you’ve got a flat (courtesy of the Good Samaritan who says he’ll fix it for you)

Everywhere: Pick up a few extra bucks and help your local pharmacist scam Medicaid


Remember our motto here at camp: “If you take advice from The Fiddler, you need advice.” Send comments and questions to: Art of the Prank.


image: excerpt of The Scream by Edvard Munch


The Fiddler is a creation of W.J. Elvin III

Unnatural Nature

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic

Pseudo-nature Photographers translated a Chinese article that analyzes the ethics of a certain form of macro nature photography, a large amount of which emanates from Indonesia. The original author is not known, however the content is riveting. Here’s a sampling of photos from the article.

frogsumbrellas

frogs1

frogs2

More photos here and here.

Related links:

A Fake Makes it to the Smithsonian’s Photo Contest Finalists, Scientific American

Macro Photography Ethics, sgmacro.blogspot.com

6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hype, Illusion and Magic

6 Famous Documentaries That Were Shockingly Full of Crap
by Amanda Mannen
Cracked.com
August 12, 2013

200154-425

On some level, we all know that almost everything we see at the movies is bullshit, from the amount of bullets a person can take without dying to what the job of pizza delivery boy actually entails. Except documentaries. Documentaries are where we turn off the snark and open our minds to learn about distant lands, alarming realities, and how much McDonald’s a dude can eat.

However, it turns out that some of the most acclaimed documentaries ever are about as real as Borat.

Read the full story about Super Size Me, Waiting for “Superman”, Religulous, Searching for Sugar Man, Winged Migration & Nanook of the North!

Viral Trayvon Martin Photo is a Hoax

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

ATT00001-200Snopes.com reveals that the photo circulating of the supposed “real” Trayvon Martin is not the real Trayvon Martin at all. A twitchy.com post claiming media bias in the treatment of Travyon Martin, because he is actually a 6’2″ 175 pound muscular man, is false. And, even though twitchy.com issued a correction and an apology, this story has been viral for over a year and is still circulating.

Read the details at Snopes.com and Pictures Of Trayvon Martin Are Fakes at politicalforum.com.

Dirty Medicine: Ranbaxy’s Criminal Generic Drug Fraud

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

Dirty medicine
By Katherine Eban
Fortune
May 15, 2013

The epic inside story of long-term criminal fraud at Ranbaxy, the Indian drug company that makes generic Lipitor for millions of Americans.

CEO Singh of Ranbaxy

1. The assignment

On the morning of Aug. 18, 2004, Dinesh Thakur hurried to a hastily arranged meeting with his boss at the gleaming offices of Ranbaxy Laboratories in Gurgaon, India, 20 miles south of New Delhi. It was so early that he passed gardeners watering impeccable shrubs and cleaners still polishing the lobby’s tile floors. As always, Thakur was punctual and organized. He had a round face and low-key demeanor, with deep-set eyes that gave him a doleful appearance.

His boss, Dr. Rajinder Kumar, Ranbaxy’s head of research and development, had joined the generic-drug company just two months earlier from GlaxoSmithKline, where he had served as global head of psychiatry for clinical research and development. Tall and handsome with elegant manners, Kumar, known as Raj, had a reputation for integrity. Thakur liked and respected him.

Like Kumar, Thakur had left a brand-name pharmaceutical company for Ranbaxy. Thakur, then 35, an American-trained engineer and a naturalized U.S. citizen, had worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) in New Jersey for 10 years. In 2002 a former mentor recruited him to Ranbaxy by appealing to his native patriotism. So he had moved his wife and baby son to Gurgaon to join India’s largest drugmaker and its first multinational pharmaceutical company.

When he stepped into Kumar’s office that morning, Thakur was surprised by his boss’ appearance. He looked weary and uneasy, his eyes puffy and dark. He had returned the previous day from South Africa, where he had met with government regulators. It was clear that the meeting had not gone well.
The two men strolled into the hall to order tea from white-uniformed waiters. As they returned, Kumar said, “We are in big trouble,” and motioned for Thakur to be quiet. Back in his office, Kumar handed him a letter from the World Health Organization. It summarized the results of an inspection that WHO had done at Vimta Laboratories, an Indian company that Ranbaxy hired to administer clinical tests of its AIDS medicine. The inspection had focused on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that Ranbaxy was selling to the South African government to save the lives of its AIDS-ravaged population. (more…)

Sociopathic Social Research: How One Man Rigged Results for Academic Fame and Fortune

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

Submitted by Peter Markus:


The Mind of a Con Man
By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
New York Times
April 26, 2013

DiederikStapelOne summer night in 2011, a tall, 40-something professor named Diederik Stapel stepped out of his elegant brick house in the Dutch city of Tilburg to visit a friend around the corner. It was close to midnight, but his colleague Marcel Zeelenberg had called and texted Stapel that evening to say that he wanted to see him about an urgent matter. The two had known each other since the early ’90s, when they were Ph.D. students at the University of Amsterdam; now both were psychologists at Tilburg University. In 2010, Stapel became dean of the university’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Zeelenberg head of the social psychology department. Stapel and his wife, Marcelle, had supported Zeelenberg through a difficult divorce a few years earlier. As he approached Zeelenberg’s door, Stapel wondered if his colleague was having problems with his new girlfriend.

Zeelenberg, a stocky man with a shaved head, led Stapel into his living room. “What’s up?” Stapel asked, settling onto a couch. Two graduate students had made an accusation, Zeelenberg explained. His eyes began to fill with tears. “They suspect you have been committing research fraud.” (more…)

Heartbreak Hoax?

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, You Decide

Notre Dame Football Star Manti Te’o Says Dead Girlfriend Was Hoax
ABC World News
by Colleen Curry and Dan Harris
January 16, 2013

The star of Notre Dame’s championship football team said the widely-reported death of his girlfriend from leukemia during the 2012 football season was apparently a hoax, and said he was duped by it as well.

Manti Te’o, who led the Fighting Irish to the BCS championship game this year and finished second for the Heisman Trophy, said in a statement today that he fell in love with a girl online last year who turned out not to be real.

He said during the season that his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, died of leukemia in September on the same day Te’o’s grandmother died, triggering an outpouring of support for Te’o at Notre Dame and in the media.

“While my grandma passed away and you take, you know, the love of my life [Kekua]. The last thing she said to me was, ‘I love you,'” Te’o said at the time, noting that he had talked to Kekua on the phone and by text message until her death. (more…)

Mark Cuban and the EFF Declare War on Crappy Patents

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

EFF creates the “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents”
by Cory Doctorow
BoingBoing.net
December 20, 2012

Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban and Minecraft creator Markus Persson have donated $500,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to endow the “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents,” which will be occupied by an attorney tasked with hunting down and destroying crappy patents that have been recklessly granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office to unscrupulous “inventors” who claim to have invented things that were obvious and/or already extant; and to pay for activists to fight for substantive patent reform:

Read more here.

Who is Jordi Sarda Bonvehi? And, Why Did He Negotiate a Fake $1.1B Pipeline Deal?

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

From Larry:


Ukraine Crushed in $1.1bn Fake Gas Deal
by Jen Alic
oilprice.com
29 November 2012

Certainly the folks at Gazprom are having a good snicker, reveling in the mockery that has been made of what should have been a landmark Ukraine-Spain gas deal that would have loosened Russia’s gas grip on Kiev.

Everyone wondered how Russia would respond to Ukraine’s attempt at gas independence. But this is what happens when you mess with Gazprom.

It was a horrible moment for Ukraine on Monday—all the more horrible because the whole event was televised—when the historical $1.1 billion deal it was about to sign with Spain’s Gas Natural Fenosa turned out to be fake. (more…)

The True Story Behind Operation Argo

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Propaganda and Disinformation

Submitted by Peter Markus:


The True Story Behind Operation ‘Argo’ to Rescue Americans From Iran
by Antonio Mendez, Matt Baglio
The Daily Beast
September 17, 2012

The true story behind the new movie “Argo” about how CIA operatives posing as a Hollywood production rescued 6 Americans hiding in Iran during the 1979 embassy crisis. An excerpt from Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio’s new book, Argo.

On Nov. 4, 1979, thousands of Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage, including three CIA officers. The crisis lasted 444 days—a drawn-out drama dubbed “America Held Hostage” on television. But during the tumult, six American consular officials managed to slip by the Iranian mob.

As they hid out in the homes of two Canadian diplomats, the Secret Six dreamed up escape plans worthy of Robert Ludlum, and perhaps just as outlandish.

That is, until the CIA appeared with a plan even crazier than anything they had imagined: a scheme to have them pose as a crew of politically clueless filmmakers from Tinseltown scouting locations for a sci-fi film. (more…)

Egyptian Candid Camera Take 2: “You’ve Been Kidnapped”

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Submitted by Mike I: Another Egyptian magic moment… maybe a side effect of the Arab Spring?


‘You’ve been kidnapped’: Egyptian TV show ‘terror pranks’ celebrities
By Dina Al-Shibeeb
Al Arabiya
29 July 2012

An Egyptian show is taking entertainment to another level by duping celebrities into believing they have been abducted by terrorists.

The show, “Ramz, the desert’s fox” aired on Al-Hayat TV channel at the start of Ramadan, begins at Cairo’s Terminal 2 airport where a tourist bus arrives to take the celebrity who is the target of the prank.

Video from Jewish News One

The unsuspecting celebrity believes that he or she is being transported on bus to participate in a program to be filmed at the tourist center, the Red Sea city of Ghardaka, to boost the country’s dwindling tourism sector. (more…)