The Appearance of Being Earnest
It’s 1879. The courtroom in Santiago is full. The tables and benches and sidelines hold a defendant, his accomplice, the lawyers for all sides, the justice of the Chilean Supreme Court, and onlookers. The trial had dragged on for two years. The defendant was incarcerated all the while at the nearby Des Hotel Ingles. This autumn afternoon was the end of a very long journey. Up to that point in life, the accused had “engaged the most elegant suite of rooms in the most fashionable hotels,” charming investors with his “large, eloquent eyes.” Having spent the prior decade crisscrossing half the globe from Europe to North America to South America, he was the man papers from the United States to New Zealand called “foremost in the ranks of the world’s swindlers,” the man who they said had “the black heart of a conscienceless scoundrel,” the one the New York Times devoted ten long paragraphs to in his obituary six years later as the “king of swindlers.” He was the Chevalier Alfred Paraf.[more inside]
DashCon and Las Pegasus Unicon imploded in front of a live international audience. Tentmoot never even happened. Running a con is difficult business.
Stickman's Tips for Having a Table at a Comic Book Convention is actually a pretty good primer for having a booth or table at any convention, ever. [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]
If you’re going to have security theater, you need props. James McCormick was sentenced yesterday in the UK to three ten-year jail terms for selling magic wands - rebranded gag golf ball finders he claimed could detect explosives.
Kotaku article about, well, a weekend at a furry convention. Of note because it features a short interview with MeFi's own egypturnash (near the end, under "Our Transhuman Future"), plus a pic of her awesome dragon tattoo.
This fanart piece of Disney Princesses as superheroes inspired a group of cosplayers to make it real. Their latest group shot at San Diego Comic-Con features new faces: Jane, Nala, Merida, Giselle, Cinderella, and Wendy. [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.
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]
Con Artist Starred in Sting That Cost Google Millions - The government's case also contained potentially embarrassing allegations that top Google executives, including co-founder Larry Page, were told about legal problems with the drug ads. [more inside]
The United States Secret Service is warning about an old scam that's recently popped up again in New England: black money. [more inside]
On July 23, 1920, Charles Ponzi hired former Boston Post journalist William H. McMasters as his publicist, who quickly realized that his new client was defrauding the public. Just ten days later, McMasters wrote an exposé published in the Post that led to Ponzi's ultimate downfall. The newspaper won a Pulitzer. McMasters was The Man Who Time (Almost) Forgot (Via) [more inside]
Starting from a proposal by vito_excalibur, the Back Up Project tries to intervene in sexual harassment at fan conferences. [more inside]
Photographer Froggy Bottoms specializes in photographing celebrities with their biggest fans. Rick Springfield, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Patrick Stewart and many many more.
Bernie Madoff - Free At Last While incarcerated for 150 years for a $65 Billion dollar Ponzi scheme, Berine Madoff creates his own version of the events that led to his arrest and becomes a local celebrity at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex. (via metachat)
"The reality is that the post-bailout era in which Goldman [Sachs] thrived has turned out to be a chaotic frenzy of high-stakes con-artistry, with taxpayers and clients bilked out of billions using a dizzying array of old-school hustles that, but for their ponderous complexity, would have fit well in slick grifter movies like The Sting and Matchstick Men. There's even a term in con-man lingo for what some of the banks are doing right now, with all their cosmetic gestures of scaling back bonuses and giving to charities. In the grifter world, calming down a mark so he doesn't call the cops is known as the "Cool Off.""
"No one guessed the truth, which was simpler, and therefore stranger, than their wildest theories: that the scared young woman so hotly pursued by South Carolina police, the Secret Service, federal marshals and even the U.S. Army was actually on a bizarre and misguided journey of self-discovery." Rolling Stone reports on the strange case of Esther Reed: The Girl Who Conned The Ivy League. (via Metachat)
The Girl Who Cried Webmaster: "I’m annoyed and exhausted, I have a considerable load of work to take care of, and after you’ve read what appears below, you’ll probably agree that I’ve earned it."
In the wake of some pretty nasty harassment directed towards women at San Diego Comic-Con, Rachel Edidin from the Inside Out blog at Girl Wonder has established a means of constructively dealing with the problem: the Con Anti-Harassment Project. [more inside]
Do you know your close-up con games? Some classics: the Tip, the Jamaican Switch, the Wire (and its incredibly complicated cousin, the Rag), the Texas Twist, the Pigeon Drop, the Spanish Prisoner (or Nigerian Scam) and the ancient pig-in-a-poke. Also, learn the argot of the classic con artist, view some videos of card scam moves and discover some patter as well, or just see how the language of the con has been used in one of the more famous papers in sociology.
Tricksy those hobbitses What happens when two girls bilk LotR fans, trick the celebrities, and leave a volunteer holding the bag? Continued fan outrage and careful tracking.
Portrait of a Con-Artist: Due to the efforts of the site StopAglaia! (which was posted here earlier in the year), The New Jersey Star-Ledger printed this facinating story exposing a con woman of "Kaycee Nicole" proportions, and includes an interview with the woman in question. She's impersonated Denis Leary, Henry Rollins, and the manager for Bright Eyes, and she's conned both men an women out of thousands of dollars. Sadly, the printing of this article has caused StopAglaia! to shut down, but their forum is still up, so victims can trade info. [More Inside]