The Grandparent Scam
Every day, phones are ringing in homes across the country. Maybe yours. On the line: organized teams of con artists trying to bilk you out of thousands of dollars by impersonating your loved ones.
"Enrique Martinez didn't like chocolate, but he was eating as many as 10 pieces a day, drinking chocolate protein shakes and rubbing a chocolate-based skin cream on his face. It was expensive chocolate, too. Martinez and his wife, Michelle, were going through $2,000 in chocolate a month."
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
set a record for the all-time worst opening weekend for an animated film
. Executive Producer Greg Centineo attributed the failure to a "conspiracy" of Hollywood's powers-that-be
against independent production company Alpine Pictures. In light of Oz
's glacially-delayed release schedule and shabby production values, it would appear that the heads of Alpine are completely incompetent…or are they? [more inside]
The Dove Sketches Beauty Scam
"Dude, are you doing the Dove ad now? That was so April 15th...?" Yes, I realize I missed the meme train, but it's better to be right than part of the debate, especially when there is no debate, this is all a short con inside a 50+ year long con. Remember House Of Games? "It's called a confidence game. Why, because you give me your confidence? No: because I give you mine." [more inside]
Want to get away with not paying taxes but don't have the money to make your own offshore company in the Cayman Islands? Fret not - you can hijack an existing offshore company starting from the low low price of 99 cents! [more inside]
Jesse Willms, the Dark Lord of the Internet
. How one of the most notorious alleged hustlers in the history of e-commerce made a fortune on the Web.
A brief history
of the Spanish prisoner scam.
Matthowie hates him! Mefite's shocking discovery of how to get 100 favorites in 10 minutes. Up your favorite ratio in 10 days with one weird trick
, take your mefi performance to the next level. Click here [more inside]
Introducing Super Monster Bros by Adventure Time Pocket Free Games
! Where the characters are Pokemon (kinda), the gameplay is Mario (kinda), and the content will cost you up to $99.99 to unlock!
Meet the men who spy on women through their webcams - "If you are unlucky enough to have your computer infected with a RAT, prepare to be sold or traded to the kind of person who enters forums to ask, "Can I get some slaves for my rat please? I got 2 bucks lol I will give it to you :b" At that point, the indignities you will suffer—and the horrific website images you may see—will be limited only by the imagination of that most terrifying person: a 14-year-old boy with an unsupervised Internet connection."
"I am calling you from Windows"
: A tech support scammer dials Ars Technica [more inside]
'You Have a Smart Face': the $120 Million Wire Transfer, the Octopus, the Silencer, and the Corpse in the Alley.
An infamous fake trader fakes his own death, gets caught, is released, gets desperate, and is offered entrance into an apparent world of secret government, secret agents, and secret accounts.
Why Do Online Scammers Say They Are From Nigeria?
A research paper from Microsoft argues it's a method of weeding out the savvy [via Slate
]. [more inside]
"STOP! This is NOT a DVD! STOP! This is NOT a DVD! STOP! This is NOT a DVD!
: in which the Verge investigates "a network of pitchmen who have used the internet and fear of a failing economy to play the ultimate long con."
Felix Salmon, the Reuters finance blogger
, has raised a skeptical eyebrow at some of the latest success stories at Kickstarter (one
). In a post yesterday pivoting off Kickstarter founder Yancey Strickler's appearance at the Wired con
, he wonders: Is Kickstarter ripe for a big scam? [more inside]
The Warlord and the Basketball Star
When an athlete-turned-humanitarian and an energy executive tried to buy gold in Kenya, they found themselves mired in Congo's dangerous world of conflict minerals -- and totally outmatched. [more inside]
The true name of the man most famously known as Lord George Gordon Gordon
will likely never be known. His name, though false, will nevertheless live in history for pulling one of the great advance-fee cons of all time, swindling in 1872 over a million dollars out of Jay Gould, most unscrupulous of all the robber barons and no stranger himself to a long con
. Gould's quest for revenge would nearly lead to a military invasion of Manitoba by the Minnesota state militia. [more inside]
You may have never heard of them, but they definitely have your email address. They are the Yahoo-Yahoo Boys; the young Nigerian men who cut wide swaths of cash by preying on the naiveté of moneyed Westerners vis a vis their dreaded 419 emails.
...But if you check your spam folder right now you might notice that it is slightly lighter these days. That's because it's been a tough week for Nigeria’s most infamous internet enthusiasts. Due to the week-long strike action that took place in response to the government’s decision to remove a national fuel subsidy, it has become increasingly difficult for the Yahoos to extract funds from their “clients”.
The Yahoos' disposition towards #OccupyNigeria is also worth paying attention to because 419 culture is essentially a street-level microcosm of the institutional corruption that has plagued Nigeria for the past forty years. And although the Yahoos are often blamed for distorting Nigeria’s image abroad, they've also become part of the cultural fabric.
In 1933, Anthony Marino, Joe Murphy, Frank Pasqua and Dan Kriesberg decided to make money by taking out life insurance on drunks and then letting the victims drink themselves to death. Then they encountered Mike Malloy...
How to track down a scammer
. Two weeks ago, "Ken", a writer at the politics/law/gaming blog Popehat, got a fax in the vein of the toner scam
- an invoice from a company he'd never done business with, hoping that the firm would pay the bill anyway out of sheer ignorance. Instead, he decided to use the name and contact information on the fax to expose every detail he could find about their operation. After a series of in-depth searches
he found quite a lot - from real names and addresses
to criminal records
- and wrote up his methodology in detail to help others do the same.
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom!
If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid
, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot
(owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]
) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies
. Exposed so far:
A shadowy "Syndicate"
of frauduct-pushing personality cults
polluting the media with blogspam
and woo-woo talking points
. Boiler rooms
in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets
with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]
. Powerful politicians bought wholesale
. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests
. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye
. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin
Phaser Inc., a trading company in space-based MMO EVE online, have absconded with a record-breaking 1 trillion ISK and revealed themselves as a giant ponzi scheme in a remarkably frank open letter
. Their haul of the in-game currency translates to just over $50,000, or 242 years-worth, of PLEX
(traded for playing time). [via RockPaperShotgun] [more inside]
New York Attorney General: Coalition Against Breast Cancer - "Scam".
'The state of New York sued a breast cancer charity on Tuesday
, accusing it of soliciting more than $9 million and spending virtually none of it on the cause.' 'The Coalition Against Breast Cancer, based in Long Island, told donors their money would go toward research and mammogram screenings, but spent most of the $9.1 million it collected over five years on fundraising fees, salaries and benefits and personal goods, the state attorney general alleges.' But what about all those "pink" products that tout a donation to a charity when you buy? [more inside]
A new study finds that re-usable grocery bags
don't harbor sickening bacteria as much as previously found. Turns out, the previous study
(June, 2010), which reported significant levels of sickness producing bacteria present in the bags they tested, was sponsored by the American Chemistry Council
, an organization that represents the interests of the people who manufacture plastic bags
. “A person eating an average bag of salad greens gets more exposure to these bacteria than if they had licked the insides of the dirtiest bag from this study
,” says an expert.
As part of making documents available following Freedom of Information Act requests, the FBI has set up The Vault
, including documents on unexplained phenomenon
. One document in particular, the Guy Hottel memo
, had some proclaiming "these are the real life X-Files
." Except it's not - the document is real, but the report was based on a hoax
that is known by many UFO debunkers
University of Redwood
sounds a lot like Reed College
, down to faculty and building names. And apparently it doesn't exist
. [more inside]
Randolph Carter received an interesting proposition over email.
A Nigerian politician offered the scholar a once in a lifetime business opportunity that could provide wealth for both parties if Carter could make a small initial investment. Carter needed the money to finance his research into obscure Polynesian cultures, especially references to a strange god named "Cthulhu"... [more inside]
As first reported on NPR back in April
, Vision Media targets non-profits with promises of exposure on PBS stations around the country, but the promised spots (supposedly hosted by Hugh Downs) never actually air. Now, they seem to have resurfaced as World Progress Report
, as reported by Public Citizen. [more inside]
Last week the playwright Alan Bennett
was "relieved" of £1,500 by one of the simplest scams
about - the distraction scam. The BBC provides a helpful guide to how not to get scammed
while MSN outlines the 13 scams of the summer
. For a more in-depth examination of the world of scams, The Real Hustle
is an invaluable resource
. [more inside]
Nokia's new ARG ad campaign
seems to be co-opting activism for marketing. Written by Tim Kring
infamy. There's a good summary here
. Strangely they managed to troll The Pirate Bay
into a response and the bassist from Suede
is doing the blog!
"i accept the fact that i am GUILTY… and will not hesitate to be prosecuted when the law catch up with me… and i know my God will forgive because i pray to him to replenish the pockets of my clients with double of whatever they loss"
Mike Nash has a surprisingly frank chat with a 419 scammer.
Imagine: your book, a bestseller.
A fishy Amazon gift card scheme run by "ResultsSource
" apparently helped California Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Poizner get his book
to #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Reporting by This American Life
and Capitol Weekly [more inside]
Your dreams of rapping superstardom are stymied by your Scottish sound, so what do you do? Simple: reinvent yourself as a West Coast wild boy, with American accent and history to match.
Keeping it real might be murder
, but even when it all falls apart, at least you got to tour with Eminem and D12 – and you can salvage something by writing
about it all.
The Wolffs At The Door
An interesting story about a couple of elderly grifters in Massachusetts. The Boston Sunday Globe published a follow-up article today. [more inside]
"I funded the company myself but I did every horrible thing in the book to, just to get revenues right away." So said Mark Pincus, CEO and founder of Zynga
, the company behind social games like Mafia Wars and Farmville. It's the latest revelation in a week-long bit of drama
between TechCrunch and the companies running the shady virtual currency that makes the games profitable. [more inside]
Iraq Swears by Bomb Detector U.S. (Correctly) Sees as Useless.
Similar to the now debunked Sniffex
(as seen previously
on Metafilter), the ADE651 detects explosives, firearms, grenades, narcotics, elephant ivory, bank notes, and according to its manufacturer's website
, "human research." [more inside]
How to value and sell your gold.
Probably a waste of time though, those real people who sold their gold on TV seem happy enough.
High-priced emergency locksmith services
clog up local business listings (and Google Maps), driving all the emergency calls to their numbers. It's happened all over the country. E.g., a 'brash new locksmith company' comes to Madison, WI
Claiming to have invented
a perpetual motion machine in 2006, Steorn Inc.
(previously on Metafilter here
a team of 22 international scientists and engineers
to "verify" their apparently impossible device. Last week the scientific jury announced
their results: “The unanimous verdict of the jury is that Steorn’s attempts to demonstrate the claim have not shown the production of energy,”
it stated. “The jury is therefore ceasing work.” [more inside]