Fraud and Deception

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World Class Literary Deception

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Literary Hoaxes

Celebrity biography readers beware. David Cay Johnston catalogs how one best-selling author, C. David Heymann, who wrote books of historical significance about world leaders and A-class celebs, filled his pages with inaccuracies and downright scurrilous fabrications.


C. David Heymann’s Lies About JFK and Jackie, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor
by David Cay Johnston
Newsweek
August 27, 2014

C. David Heymann’s Lies About JFK and Jackie  Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor-425

He had been dead for over two years, but he still had a magic touch with readers.

When best-selling author C. David Heymann’s latest (and last) book, Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love, came out in July, it received the kind of reviews most authors would kill for. The Columbus Dispatch called it an “engrossing portrait.” The Christian Science Monitor and the New York Post raved. Kirkus Reviews said it was “a well-researched story” revealing the “profoundly unethical behavior of the medical and mental health professionals who dealt with [Monroe].” The popular Canadian magazine Maclean’s praised Heymann’s research, finding “his sources credible.”

The publisher, a subsidiary of media behemoth CBS, says Joe and Marilyn tells “the riveting true story” of the lusty, tempestuous and brief marriage between the Yankees slugger and the iconic actress. In this and his previous 10 books, Heymann served up intimate details no other celebrity biographer could match. It was often titillating and sometimes shocking stuff. In Joe and Marilyn, Heymann wrote that DiMaggio beat Monroe, wiretapped her home and stalked her by skulking around in disguises, wearing a fake beard and for hours holding up a copy of The New York Times so no one would notice him in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

(more…)

Celebrity Scammers Hiding In Plain Sight

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

In one of its trademark listicles, Cracked spotlights five famous frauds who have been pretty much forgiven by the public.


“5 Successful People Who Everyone Forgets are Exposed Frauds”
by Sammy Trujillo
Cracked.com
August 25, 2014

James O'Keefe

James O’Keefe (via Getty Images)

“Making a career out of ripping people off takes a special kind of asshole. But to make a career out of defrauding the general public, get exposed as a fraud, and then keep right on defrauding people as if nothing ever happened takes a special kind of asshole with balls of industrial steel. Either that, or a sociopathic lack of self-awareness. Here are five people who just can’t stop making shit up (and are inexplicably rewarded for it).”

Swatting Ringleader Meets His Demise

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Phone Pranks, Pranksters

People do a lot of things with phones. Some are harmless and potentially amusing. Others can get you tossed in the slammer.

Photo by Eric Richardson

Swatting falls into the latter category. It involves providing an emergency service like 911 with a false tip that provokes an armed police raid on the home of an innocent (and likely terrified) person, be it a personal enemy, a celebrity, or just some guy. These hoaxes are a particular menace for the LAPD, since they happen so often to Hollywood stars.

On Tuesday, Jason Allen Neff pled guilty to running a ring of swatters in various locations. Neff, as it happens, has a long and storied career of hacking activities dating back to the ’90s. He awaits sentencing and faces five years in federal prison. The hostage faker seems poised to become a hostage of his own making.

photo: Eric Richardson, Creative Commons

Political Hacktivism, Iran Style

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges

Iran Is Using a Neocon to Hack Its Foes
Daily Beast
by Eli Lake
May 29, 2014

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.

john-bolton-hacked-425

In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.”

No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names.

Read more here.

Facebook Fraud

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

From Emanuele: Veritasium takes a break from his wonderful science videos to dig into the realities of Facebook “likes.” Finally, someone provides insight into ever declining user engagement with Facebook. Is this the somber sound of a social network death knell?


Watch the video:

Flappy Bird Fakes

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Hype

From Joe King: Flappy Bird game creator, Dong Nguyen, unceremoniously removed his hugely successful app from app stores, however, Graham Cluley reports: Criminals appear to be selling fake flappy bird games. This is probably a bigger threat to western civilization than NSA’s encroachments.

flappy-bird

Regardless, speculation abounds about why he removed the game from play.

  • ‘Flappy Bird’ creator cites ‘addiction’ for pulling game, USA Today
  • Then, there’s this from Jefferson Graham, also of USA Today:

    Watch the video:

    Ask The Fiddler #22: Costly Cures for Imaginary Illnesses

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Satire

    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,

    I have a headache that starts in my toes, I’m allergic to my allergy meds, and my boomerang won’t come back. What remedy do you suggest?

    Barry in D.C.

    Dear Barry,

    Obviously you need a hearty dose of that legendary scourge of internal corruption, Dr. Fiddler’s Electro-Cleanse Elixir, completely recyclable and manufactured under strict sanitary conditions when circumstances permit, available at the side door at the conclusion of this essay. Two dollars for the bottle.

    stethescopeOn the other hand, you could undoubtedly improve your condition if you would quit watching TV medical ads and cease asking the Internet for a diagnosis.

    Those ads and questionable posts can be hazardous to your health. Experts say “exposure to advertising that sells a fantasy of flawless health, perfect skin, clockwork bowels, extended youth and perpetual cheerfulness in the face of disappointment, aging, money woes” … “can create expectations and perceived needs that lead to unnecessary and expensive drug consumption.”

    Of course the drug companies argue that their ads are educational. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries where drug companies can advertise directly to consumers. It is estimated that every ad dollar spent by Big Pharma yields a four dollar boost in sales of prescription drugs. (more…)

    Fiddle File #10

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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 #10

    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:

    Kentucky & Etc: Take it off? You got a gig serving burgers and fries. Now the restaurant manager is ordering you to submit to a strip-search. Here’s the history of a very bizarre hoax, pulled time and again.

    FaceBook: What makes you click? Here are some hoax headlines that have steered the curious into a marketing scam: Huge plane crashes into bridge? – Terrible roller coaster accident! – 99% Can’t Watch More Than 15 Seconds – Half Girl Half Snake! – Terrible accident with pencil! – HUGE pimple explodes – Shark eats living man! – Spider lives under skin!

    plane-crashes-bridge

    FaceBook, email: Here’s another example of the “What makes you click?” hoax. (more…)

    Fiddle File #9

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

    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 #9

    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:

    superstarEverywhere: Got what it takes to be a supermodel? There are plenty of sharks out there to assure you of that, all you need is some up front money. Article is from a Canadian perspective but the advice is universal.

    Cleveland: The nice stranger will give you half the proceeds if you let him cash a check using your debit card. Sounds like an easy way to pocket some loot. And it is, for the scammer.

    Staten Island: Ah, for a good night’s rest. WTF, the bed’s on fire. And your “prankster” roomy is facing a handful of charges.

    Baltimore: Looking to make a few extra bucks? Become a hoaxer bounty hunter. Coast Guard offers $2000 for the right info on this trouble-maker.

    FaceBook: What are friends for? Overseas con artists think they’re for exploiting through impostor accounts set up using your info.

    (more…)

    Fiddle File #8

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

    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 #8

    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:

    Los Angeles: Poor dear, is an evil curse keeping you from finding true love? No problem, for something just short of a million bucks this psychic will fix you right up. Think so?

    Your Computer: The email says your package is on its way. But you didn’t order any package. Well, better check. Nope, better not, unless you want to be phished for personal and banking info.

    Atlanta: Whew, sure glad Home Depot has public restrooms. Whoa, sure hate that some jerk decorated the seats with glue.

    Your Computer: You’re active in online communities like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and LinkedIn. Yum, scammers love you.

    Everywhere: A good selection here, “The Twelve Scams of Christmas,” nefarious activities by scammers which you may encounter this season.

    (more…)

    How (Not) to Fake Your Own Death

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, How to Pull Off a Prank, Instructionals

    Bogus death for big bucks: 7 dumbest mistakes
    by Celia Seupel
    CNBC
    17 October 2013

    fakedeath-200For years, faking your own death has been an escape scheme of the desperate and a get-rich scam of the foolish. Some scammers hope to get rich quick on life insurance fraud; others try to escape the law when their other schemes go wrong. CNBC Prime’s “American Greed: The Fugitives” reports on one of the latter: Aubry Lee Price, a preacher turned day-trader, defrauded investors out of millions, then allegedly faked his own death by disappearing off a Key West ferry. Although Florida issued a death certificate, the FBI suspects that Price is still alive.

    But insurance companies have wised up, according to Dennis Jay, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. Not only do they investigate suspicious life insurance claims vigorously; they also find that it’s hard for people to stay off the grid year after year. Here are some of the dumbest ways that the bogus “dead” have resurfaced and gotten caught.

    1. Don’t use a corpse of the opposite sex

    Molly and Clayton Daniels faked Clayton’s death to keep him out of jail and to collect on his $110,000 life insurance policy. They dug up a corpse, dressed it in Clayton’s clothes, then burned it in a car crash. However, DNA testing revealed that the corpse was female.

    (more…)

    Fiddle File #4

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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 #4

    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:

    Beverly Hills: Great idea, bust in on your buddy pretending to be armed robbers. A real hoot, until your buddy starts breaking noses.

    Everywhere: Congratulations, you’ve won tons of money in an automated FaceBook lottery. Whoops, sorry — no money just lots of bad stuff loaded on your computer.

    St. Louis: Here’s an airline ticket, please fly to St. Louis and I’ll give you $19,000 for that ring you advertised on CraigsList. You really don’t believe this story has a happy ending?

    (more…)

    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

    by
    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

    by
    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).

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