Prank Busters

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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…)

The Fiddle File #7

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Filed under: Prank Busters, Urban Legends

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 #7

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:

Washington State: I read the news today, oh boy. Fake article posted about son’s alleged suicide.

China: Do these eggs taste kind of funny to you? I mean, not funny ha-ha, funny yuck.

Vancouver BC: The on-line date you haven’t met yet has hit you up for $500,000 in loans. Talk about screwed without a kiss.

Washington DC: Sorry to hear you slipped on a banana peel. By the way, that’s a felony.

Watch the video

Louisiana: You jokingly yell to your sleeping friend that the car is on fire and about to explode. His panic reaction leads to a near-death experience.

(more…)

Sobering Up on the Python Story

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Filed under: Prank Busters, Urban Legends

From Joe King: Apparently the python-swallows-drunk tale has appeared in various permutations here there and everywhere


‘Python Eats Drunk Man in India’ Most Likely a Hoax; Media Outlets Fooled
by Jack Phillips
Epoch Times
November 28, 2013

An article titled “Python Eats Drunk Man in India” is a hoax, according to a report.

python-india-425

David Emery with About.com wrote that the photo, which shows a python with a large object inside of it as people stand nearby, has been around for at least two years.

“Depending on which version of the story you read, the overstuffed python above swallowed a drunk guy in India, an unknown woman in South Africa, an unknown man in Qujing, China, a person of unknown gender in Indonesia, or a 4-year-old child in Malaysia,” he wrote. (more…)

The Fiddle File #6

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Filed under: 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 #6

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:

Worldwide: Looking for love in Thailand? Hopefully you don’t use the same password elsewhere.

U.S./U.K.: If your Windows system has been hit by CryptoLocker you probably aren’t reading this. Otherwise, extreme caution is vital, this ransomware is very effective (Via Graham Cluly’s Security Newsletter).

Vancouver: The attack-passerby-with-a-fake-axe trick gets you a nice pair of police-issue bracelets to wear all the way to jail.

Colorado: Stick a toy pistol in a cop’s face. Luckily he doesn’t react as some might, you’re under arrest rather than under six feet of dirt.

England: “Night climbing” on the roof of an 11th century world heritage site cathedral may not improve your class standing.

(more…)

The Fiddle File #5

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Filed under: 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 #5

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-197

New Jersey: Superstorm Sandy brought us many tales of heroics but there is a dark side as well, unscrupulous predators using phony charities, inflated pricing and phony promises to scam victims.

Nationwide: Have you been tempted to help billionaire Warren Buffett in his crusade to reform Congress? Sorry, but the popular email solicitation is a hoax.

Everywhere: Do you search your business name regularly? It may have been hijacked for placement of phony supply orders or other nefarious purposes.

Australia: Congratulations, you just won a vacation sweepstakes. Scratch that. You just won a chance to spend 25 years in jail.

Ohio: Sorry about your loss, here’s a fake bill for funeral flowers to add to it.

California: Spending the rest of your life in a cage hardly seems sufficient payback for ripping off folks who lost homes due to wildfires.

Everywhere: Many of us use PayPal to make electronic payments. Things can go awry.

Australia: But it could happen anywhere. Fake phishing pages planted within genuine web sites. (Similar to Better Business Bureau warning on business names being hijacked).

Global: Swell Internet deals on cars, motorcycles, boats and more, just wire the money to this gang of Roumanian crooks who set up fake sites that look legit.

England: We could fill pages with items on stupid prank 911 calls but here’s one worth mention. Cops bust the door down in response to a call placed by your cat.


Snapple “Real Facts” Debunked

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Filed under: Prank Busters, Publicity Stunts

From Joe King:


We Fact-Checked Snapple’s ‘Real Facts’
by Adrienne Lafrance
The Atlantic
October 11, 2013

With 30 seconds and a web connection, you can, too.

snapplecaps-425

Of course a duck’s quack echoes.

But claims to the contrary are so often repeated that the BBC has aired audio proof of the echo, Mythbusters has investigated the acoustics of a quack’s reverberations, and others still have uploaded Internet videos of waterfowl in sound studios selected to amplify the effect.

No matter. The myth persists. It’s the kind of claim that’s repeated as fact but shared like superstition—forwarded in chain emails, published and republished among ZOMG-mindblowing facts, even printed on the cool undersides of bottle caps.

SnappleCap-200“Real Facts,” they’re called. And though the quotation marks are Snapple’s, not mine, they’re fitting.

Since 2002, the tea maker has been slinging bottle-cap factoids. Some are true, some are outright false, and plenty others are incomplete or ambiguous to the point of absurdity. But it’s easy to pluck out the spurious ones with a search engine and the right kind of bullshit detector. (more…)

NY AG’s Office Takes on Fake Yelp Reviewers

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Filed under: Prank Busters

From John and Deborah:


Fake online reviews crackdown in New York sees 19 companies fined
by Dominic Rushe
The Guardian
September 24, 2013

Attorney general set up a fake yoghurt shop in Brooklyn to ensnare fake online review companies, fined a total of $350,000

Pink yoghurt

New York’s attorney general set up a fake yoghurt shop in Brooklyn in a sting operation to trap fake online review companies.

Eric Schneiderman announced agreements with 19 firms Monday that commissioned fake reviews and several reputation-enhancement companies that helped place reviews on sites like Citysearch, Google, Yahoo and Yelp. They were fined a total of $350,000. (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).

Hurricane Pix: Real or Fake?

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Prank Busters

From Erin:


Sorting the Real Sandy Photos From the Fakes
by Alexis Madrigal
The Atlantic
October 29 2012

With Hurricane Sandy approaching the New York metro area, the nation’s eyes are turning to its largest city. Photos of storms and flooding are popping up all over Twitter, and while many are real, some of them — especially the really eye-popping ones — are fake.

This post, which will be updated over the next couple of days, is an effort to sort the real from the unreal. It’s a photograph verification service, you might say, or a pictorial investigation bureau. If you see a picture that looks fishy, send it to me at alexis.madrigal[at]gmail.com. If you like this sort of thing, you should also visit istwitterwrong.tumblr.com, which is just cataloging the fakes.

The fakes come in three varieties: 1) Real photos that were taken long ago, but that pranksters reintroduce as images of Sandy, 2) Photoshopped images that are straight up fake, and 3) The combination of the first two: old, Photoshopped pictures being trotted out again.

*****

This image of NYC — and of, yes, a double rainbow — made the rounds on social media this morning. (It was helped along by a Facebook post from none other than George Takei.)

(more…)

Churnalism.com: Plagiarism Detector

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Prank Busters

Submitted by Alex Case:


New UK website cracks down on PR-driven journalism
Miami Herald
February 24, 2011

London (AP) — Hoax articles and lazy journalists are being pushed into the spotlight by a new website that aims to expose news outlets that regurgitate press releases – a practice known as “churnalism.”

Churnalism.com, launched by the Media Standards Trust charity, allows users to copy and paste content from news releases and compare it with articles published by British news outlets to see which reporters are less proactive and more reactive in searching for news.

Media Standards Trust director Martin Moore says the site is meant to be an “accountability tool” and would ruffle some feathers in the media.

He said Thursday that with more resources and exposure, he hopes the site can eventually expand to other countries like the United States.

Facebook Candid Camera Prank: Adware or Worse

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

Submitted by W.J. Elvin III:


Facebook Users Warned of Sexy ‘Candid Camera Prank’ Attack
by Ellen Messmer
NetworkWorld
May 18, 2010

Security firms are warning Facebook users to beware of what’s being called the “Candid Camera Prank” attack recently spotted on Facebook that tries to use the lure of a sexy video of a scantily clad woman on a bicycle to download a video player that’s actually Hotbar adware, and maybe worse.

Also: FBI details most difficult Internet scams

Websense and Sophos are among the security firms pointing out the dangers of the “sexiest video ever” trick, posted automatically on users’ profile pages, that shows a message posted on the walls of Facebook users, seemingly by their friends, of a movie thumbnail of a woman on a bicycle wearing a short skirt in a video entitled “Candid Camera Prank.” (more…)

Navy Needs Anti-hoax Vaccine

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Prank Busters

Reports of sailors dying from the H1N1 flu vaccine are a hoax, Navy says
LA Military Headlines Examiner
by Mark Nero
October 31, 2009

H1N1Vaccine-200A report popping up in emails and on blogs in recent weeks that sailors aboard a ship have died from the vaccine for the H1N1 virus is a complete hoax, according to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The false report, which has circulating online for several weeks, claims that the vaccine is the cause of the swine flu and not the cure and that the crew of an unnamed naval vessel was sickened by the vaccine.

“Of the 347 man crew that were vaccinated, 333 contracted the H1N1 flu FROM THE VACCINE,” reads one false e-mail that has been circulated on several blogs. “Two died … and 331 survived. Only 14 of the 347 vaccinated sailors did not show any ill effects from the vaccine.”

“PLEASE pass this email along,” the message continues. “The truth is that the swine flu epidemic will be created BY THE VACCINE. If we don’t take it, there will be no epidemic.” (more…)

Gang Initiation Hoax

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Filed under: Prank Busters

Hartford Police Say Gang Initiation Threat was Hoax
WWLP.com
29 October 2009

police_lights_-200Hartford, Conn. (AP) — Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts says a reported gang initiation that threatened to kill 140 women was a hoax.

The threats were made in recent e-mails, text messages and Internet postings and put many in the city on edge. Parents whose children received the messages called police, and there were reports of people being afraid to go outside Wednesday.

Roberts says he wants to assure the public that police investigated and found no credibility to the messages. But he says the department’s intelligence division will continue to monitor the situation.

Police in other parts of the country say the same messages have turned up in their cities, but they also believe it’s just a hoax.