How to dissect a con artist

The anatomy of a scam investigation

If you get mad at swindlers, and if you have the time and energy, you can write your own exposé. Ken, from the blog Popehat, gets pissed at a scammer from the company “UST Development”. They sent a fake invoice to his law office for a service that was never performed, hoping his office will think the invoice is legitimate and pay.

Ken will have none of this crap, so he makes it his mission to expose the con-artists, dissecting them down to the bone. He documents how he digs up info on them, and what he finds, in great detail.

First, he writes the scammers a letter saying "I live in hope that this is all just a misunderstanding...."

Of course, it’s not a misunderstanding, and Ken goes on to explain, in ten long posts, how to use Google, the Better Business Bureau, records from state and federal courts, and other tipsters to get information. He finally traces the con to a man named David Bell.

If you’re angry enough and have the resources, here’s how to dissect your own deceptive crook: How to take down a scammer: Anatomy of a Scam: Chapter Index, Popehat>>

- I Wrote An Email, Popehat>>
- Toner scam, Supplies Surprise, Snopes>>

7 secrets of magic revealed by Teller

"I turn away... and swap the deck 
for a normal one..."

The magician Teller of the magic /comedy duo Penn and Teller explains 7 principles of deception used in magic:
In the last half decade, magic—normally deemed entertainment fit only for children and tourists in Las Vegas—has become shockingly respectable in the scientific world. Even I—not exactly renowned as a public speaker—have been invited to address conferences on neuroscience and perception. I asked a scientist friend (whose identity I must protect) why the sudden interest. He replied that those who fund science research find magicians “sexier than lab rats.”

I’m all for helping science. But after I share what I know, my neuroscientist friends thank me by showing me eye-tracking and MRI equipment, and promising that someday such machinery will help make me a better magician.

I have my doubts. Neuroscientists are novices at deception. Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years.
Learn the 7 secrets: Teller Reveals His Secrets. The smaller, quieter half of the magician duo Penn & Teller writes about how magicians manipulate the human mind, Smithsonian>>

The illusion of a clock with a man trapped inside

He's more than a moon caught in time

This video is an optical illusion - it looks like a grandfather clock with a man imprisoned inside, accurately telling time by drawing and erasing the hands of a clock on a round window.

The clock with a man inside


It's actually a video of the artist drawing and erasing clock hands, shown to you on a flat screen monitor.

Maarten Baas>>

A trickster gardener does some urban planting

Steve Wheen plants gardens around east London.

Holes of Happiness


- Esthetic Interventions from The Pothole Gardener, Art of the Prank>>
- The Pothole Gardener, A guerrilla gardening blog>> 

Reality, movie or cult?

Film director Ilya Khrzhanovsky 
blurs the lines between real and fake.

From an article in GQ magazine:
Five years ago, a relatively unknown (and unhinged) director began one of the wildest experiments in film history. Armed with total creative control, he invaded a Ukrainian city, marshaled a cast of thousands and thousands, and constructed a totalitarian society in which the cameras are always rolling and the actors never go home...

The rumors started seeping out of Ukraine about three years ago: A young Russian film director has holed up on the outskirts of Kharkov, a town of 1.4 million in the country's east, making...something. A movie, sure, but not just that. If the gossip was to be believed, this was the most expansive, complicated, all-consuming film project ever attempted.

A steady stream of former extras and fired PAs talked of the shoot in terms usually reserved for survivalist camps. The director, Ilya Khrzhanovsky, was a madman who forced the crew to dress in Stalin-era clothes, fed them Soviet food out of cans and tins, and paid them in Soviet money. Others said the project was a cult and everyone involved worked for free. Khrzhanovsky had taken over all of Kharkov, they said, shutting down the airport. No, no, others insisted, the entire thing was a prison experiment, perhaps filmed surreptitiously by hidden cameras. Film critic Stanislav Zelvensky blogged that he expected "heads on spikes" around the encampment.
Read about it at: The Movie Set That Ate Itself, GQ>>
- More photos at Eyed Off>>

He scammed an old Catholic nun

Some saw religious belief.
Adriano Sotomayor saw gold.

Adriano Sotomayor contacted an old woman who was a nun, a member of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima. He said he was a Catholic priest and that one of his parishioners had recently died and left her an estate valued at $2.1 million, but there were fees that needed to be paid to get the will out of probate.

She must have thought it was a miracle.

Over two years, he convinced her, members of her Catholic order, and others that his story was true. Twenty-four people sent him over $430,000. He must have had a very convincing story, because his victims were not suspicious about wiring money to him at various casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

He was later captured in Las Vegas.

- FBI Wanted poster for Adriano Sotomayor>>
- FBI Nabs Bogus Priest Who Ripped Off Elderly Nun In Fake Will Scam, Forbes>>

A fake LIFE magazine made by Nazis

It imitated the real LIFE magazine 
to get allied soldiers to 
read the propaganda inside


The real cover of LIFE magazine

During World War II, this Nazi propaganda leaflet was dropped over a few U. S. air bases in England. The front cover was a slightly altered version of a real LIFE magazine, while the inside contained photos of dead airmen and quotes meant to show the futility of bombing Germany.

This example is one of many from a site devoted to the history and collection of propaganda flyers and pamphlets which were dropped by plane or contained in shells.

Pages from inside the fake magazine follow. Click to enlarge. Obviously, if images of dead bodies upset you, don't look at them.









More Propaganda at: A NAZI fake of a 'LIFE' magazine, WW2 Propaganda>>
(NOTE: The website above was created by Hans Moonen, who has since passed away. His family is keeping the website alive.)
- Messages from the Sky Over Britain: The Fascinating Story of the Publicity and Propaganda Leaflets Disseminated Over Great Britain by Airship, Aeroplane, Balloon and Rocket, in Peacetime and in War, R. G. Auckland, Keith Brotherton Moore, Amazon>>

Children of melting mercury - an optical illusion

Where are the inhabitants?
(Click to enlarge)

I found this photo on a site in Spanish, followed by a portion of a poem by Carlos Marzal, which I thought was appropriate for the image, so I've roughly translated his entire poem (very roughly, I might add) by combining various machine translations and my meager command of the Spanish language.
Heavy Metal
- Carlos Marzal 

As it happened, we were children
with magical drops of mercury
that multiplied impossibly
in an insane geometry
after the thermometer broke, and gave our fever
an even more unreal patina,
an incomprehensible atmosphere of soft clocks.
Something in this phenomena relates to our soul.
In a strict sense, all of us
are the product of endless multiplications,
errors of our species, conquests
against the darkness. An individual
is an anonymous work of art,
a primitive map of treasure
tattooed on the skin of genealogies
that lead to his own blood and fire.
There is nothing we have not received
and nothing we have not inherited.
There is a reason to be proud
in the midst of this fever that never ends.
We are guardians of a heavy metal,
luxurious drops of loving mercury.

Metal Pesado
- Carlos Marzal

Igual que sucedía, siendo niños,
con las mágicas gotas de mercurio,
que se multiplicaban imposibles
en una perturbada geometría,
al romperse el termómetro, y daban a la fiebre
una pátina más de irrealidad,
el clima incomprensible de los relojes blandos.
Algo de ese fenómeno concierne a nuestra alma.
En un sentido estricto, cada cual
es obra de un sinfín de multiplicaciones,
de errores de la especie, de conquistas
contra la oscuridad. Un individuo
es en su anonimato una obra de arte,
un atávico mapa del tesoro
tatuado en la piel de las genealogías
y que lleva hasta él mismo a sangre y fuego.
No hay nada que no hayamos recibido
ni nada que no demos en herencia
Existe una razón para sentir orgullo
en mitad de esta fiebre que no acaba.
Somos custodios de un metal pesado,
lujosas gotas de mercurio amante.

- Gotas de mercurio, Domadora de Plabras>>
- Metal Pesado, http://amediavoz.com>>
- I can't find the original source for the photo. Does anybody know? (Many places called it "Sneaker Shadows".)

What happens when sheep enter an elevator?

The sheep - it will do what others do

In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo conducted a psychological study called the Stanford Prison Experiment. Students were assigned roles as either prison guards or prisoners and put in a mock prison. The experiment only lasted six days, because participants so fully inhabited their pretend roles in the prison that the "guards" began abusing the "prisoners."

In 2007, Dr. Zimbardo wrote The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, where he explains more about how conformity can lead to evil. In his website related to the book, he says:
Whenever I enter an office-building elevator, I automatically turn and face front, do not make eye contact with other passengers, stop talking or speak only in hush tones to a companion. Are these my personal preferences or idiosyncrasies? Hardly, since most people in most elevators behave similarly. Those actions tell you little about me but a lot about the unspoken rules of public elevators. Why do we do it? Unlike signs forbidding us to smoke or advising us what to do in case of a fire, nothing in any elevator says we should act in these strange ways. Our behavior is under the control of unwritten social rules, implicit norms, which govern appropriate elevator demeanor.
He then mentions a bit from a 1962 episode of the practical joke show Candid Camera, which illustrates conformity with a humorous prank.

Candid Camera - The power of conformity


- I found this via Open Culture, at the post "The Power of Conformity">>
- The Power of Norms and Groups on Individuals: Parallels Between the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s Obedience Research, The Lucifer Effect>>
- Stanford Prison Experiment>>

Is Pearlasia Gamboa a fraudster in fantasyland?

Pearlasia Gamboa spins a tale

Life for Pearlasia Gamboa... it's like playing a game that's gotten mixed up with reality:
The woman who more often than not calls herself Pearlasia Gamboa withdraws three sets of government identification from her wallet — two California driver's licenses and a U.S. passport — and spreads them on the table. Each bears a different name next to her own photo. A handsome Filipina who looks younger than her 60 years, Gamboa has high cheekbones, dark eyes, and glossy black hair. "I have to show you all my IDs," she says with pride.

Pearlasia, aka Elvira Gamboa, aka Pearlasia Gamboa, has granted an audience with a reporter this May afternoon for the purpose of demonstrating that she is not a con artist. Showing off her panoply of assumed names might seem an odd way to start. Then again, there is little about Gamboa that conforms to expectations.

She calls attention to a fourth form of identification, a green-and-gold business card bearing the company name "Pearl Asian Mining, Inc." Alongside a headshot of a beaming Gamboa in a yellow headdress and red beads is the name Bae C. Catiguman. It means "Princess of Unity," she explains, a title she claims was given to her by warring indigenous tribes among whom she brokered peace in the mountains of the Philippines. "I am a princess," Gamboa/Catiguman says.

According to federal and state authorities, she is also a serial scammer. A resident of Redwood City, Gamboa has been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraudulently soliciting investments in an allegedly phony Philippine gold-mining operation between 2004 and 2008.

She is also facing accusations that she stole more than $300,000 from a San Francisco real-estate investor with ties to the family of infamous "Hollywood Madam" Heidi Fleiss, and then threatened to dismember him this year when he tried to get his money back.

And that's before the story of Pearlasia Gamboa starts to get really strange.
Read the rest of the tale: Fantasy Island: The Strange Tale of Alleged Fraudster Pearlasia Gamboa, SF Weekly>>

Pearlasia Gamboa Talks About the Dominion of Melchizedek

Pearlasia Gamboa, Wikipedia>>

The 5 red balls optical illusion

Notice how many red balls are in this photo.
(You can click on this photo to enlarge it.)

Did you say five red balls? Are you sure?

Look again. Can you see another? Look closer. Are you positive there are only six balls?

When you scroll down, you'll discover where you went wrong. However, the longer you look at the photo and try to figure it out, the more surprised you'll be when the secret to this illusion is revealed.











The secret

Did you notice that each hand has an extra finger?

This is a real photo of the hands of Cuban man Yoandri Hernandez Garrido, who has polydactyly, which means he has extra digits on his hands (he also has an extra toe on each foot.) His fingers are so well-formed it's hard to notice that he has extras.

This optical illusion messes with our perceptions of normal. We doesn't spend much time focusing on his hands, because our brain takes the shortcut of seeing his hands as merely hands, not as six-fingered hands.

Telling you to look at the balls further takes attention away from the hands. (There are only five balls, by the way.)

This is called "inattentional blindness", where we can't see what's right in front of us because we're not paying attention to it.

It's also about not always knowing what's true about the world:
"One day when I was in primary school, a teacher asked me how much was five plus five?" Hernandez recalled. "I was very young, kind of shy, and I didn't say anything. She told me to count how many fingers I had, so I answered, "12!"

"The teacher was a little upset, but it was the truth," he said.
- Cuban man '24' proud of his 4 extra fingers, toes, Associated Press, Yahoo News>>
- This man’s hands are no optical illusion, io9>>
- Inattentional blindness, Wikipedia>>

How to make fake violence sound real

"...very few people know what it actually sounds like 
to stomp someone's face in an elevator."

A Salon article talks about the sound effects for a scene of violence in an elevator in the movie Drive:
According to Mark Berger, a multiple-Oscar-winning sound editor who now teaches at UC-Berkeley, each violent impact is orchestrated like a musical chord. An editor might start with a thumping base note, he says—the sound of a 2-by-4 being smacked against a side of beef—and then add in some upper frequencies with a bundle of dry twigs being snapped or a plastic cup getting broken. Then he'd finish off the effect by filling out its mid-notes with something gloopy, like the sound of a ripe melon dropped on cement. By tweaking the proportions of these ingredients, he can build something dry and tough, or moist and oozy...

The makers of Drive weren't trying to make the sounds of violent impact seem realistic. Like most sound editors, Bender says there's no clear relationship between what you'd hear in a movie fight and what you might hear in real life. Since very few people know what it actually sounds like to stomp someone's face in an elevator, the audio for a movie beating has to come from a sound editor's imagination. Soundtracks may be even more stylized and coded than on-screen visuals. "The criterion isn't authenticity," explains Mark Berger, the Berkeley professor. "It's perceived authenticity."
The Sounds of Violence, Slate>>

Man cuts off friend's hand for insurance money

How much is a severed hand worth?

You know sometimes when you read a story, you want to know a bit more, especially when it concerns a guy purposely amputating a friend's hand with a chainsaw.

Gerald B. Hardin, from Cayce, South Carolina, was arrested in a plot to defraud an insurance company. He and two others hatched a plan to cut off one of their hands with a chain saw and then file an insurance claim. Initially, it worked. (I guess the severed hand was proof enough.) They got $671,000.

Somehow, they were caught.

But can you imagine the scenario? Three guys are sitting around, wondering how they could make some big money, and one guy goes: "Hey, I've got an idea! I'll bet a severed hand is worth lots of money..."

I'm gonna claim "AWI". (Alcohol Was Involved.)

For an update on this story, see The insurance scam that required a chainsaw, Deceptology>>

- Prosecutors: Man Cut Off Friend's Hand For Insurance Money, WYFF 4>>
- Fake severed hand by Monstermann, (Lars Havemann) at Deviant Art>>

Why the hitman used two bottles of ketchup

Lupita (Erenildes Aguiar Araújo)
was targeted for murder

Maria knew her man was having an affair with Lupita, and she was so angry she wanted her dead. She decided to kill her by hiring a hitman. She found Carlos, an ex-con who needed a job. He agreed to kill Lupita for less than $500.

Maria Nilza Simoes, angry housewife


Carlos Roberto de Jesus, hired hitman

But when hitman Carlos found Lupita, he was surprised to discover that he knew her. Lupita was a friend he had known when he was a kid. There was no way he was going to be able to murder her, even for $500. Then again, it was almost $500. He approached Lupita and explained the situation.

Carlos led her into the forest, armed with a machete.

He also had two bottles of ketchup.

He tied her up, placed a gag around her mouth, lay her on the ground and smeared ketchup all over the top of her body. She helped by tearing her own shirt.  Carlos took the machete and placed it between her torso and her arm. Then he took Lupita's photo with his cell phone.

He showed Maria the photo of the supposedly dead Lupita on his phone. She was convinced, and paid him his money.

Lupita's death photo

Three days later, Maria happened to see her hitman. He was kissing Lupita, who he'd fallen in love with.

Maria was so angry she wanted justice. She went to the police and said Carlos had robbed her.

When Carlos was brought in, he said that's not exactly what happened...

Carlos, Lupita and Maria were all charged with crimes.

Carlos skipped town.

Maria was ridiculed for believing that the fake execution picture was real.

Lupita became a local celebrity. She was known as the "ketchup woman".

People asked her to enter local politics.

They wanted her to get elected to a seat in the local town hall.


Afterwards, as the "ketchup woman", 
Lupita dyed her hair red.

- Hired hit man fell in love with his victim... then faked her death with tomato ketchup, Daily Mail>>
- Ketchup killing proves sauce of fun for Brazilian town. Cheated wife sees red after would-be contract killer fakes hit with ketchup after finding out target was a friend, say Bahia police. The Guardian>>
- El "asesinato" con ketchup que hace reír a Brasil, BBC Mundo>>
- Vermelho é o novo cabelo da "mulher ketchup" BK2>>
- Envolvidos no Caso ketchup contam no Fantántico como tudo aconteceu, Correio Feirense>>

A sexy optical illusion mirror purse

It's an example of 
sneaky erotic art

If you carefully examine this art deco purse mirror from all angles, you'll discover how much this woman is delighting in herself.

You can find an illustration of this hidden image object on page 54 of the 1994 book Folk Erotica by Milton Simpson.

Dargate Auction Galleries>>

It's funny until you get $20,000 in tickets

Joke license plates cause problems.

Drivers can get special license plates for their cars that use the letters and numbers to spell out a name or message on their "vanity tag". As a joke, twenty-five years ago Danny White from Washington D.C. got plates that said "NO-TAGS".

Problem is, the Department of Motor Vehicles can't handle the joke. You see, whenever someone writes a ticket for a car that doesn't have license plates, what do they write? They write "NO TAGS".

That's why he estimates he's gotten over $20,000 in parking tickets that aren't for him. He doesn't want to change his personalized plate, and the government computer system isn't set up to track his problem.

He's got to go in every few months with a handful - a large handful - of tickets to clean up the mess.

Finally, the government told ticket writers to change the way they write tickets. And they're thinking of revoking Mr. White's troublesome plate.

This is not a problem that's unique to Mr. White.

The urban legend website Snopes has documented other true cases of personalized plates causing problems - some dating back to 1979 - from different states.

Plates you might want to avoid: NO PLATE, NONE, MISSING, NOTAG, UNKNOWN, and XXXXXXX.

- Man's Vanity Plates Attract DC Tickets for Vehicles Without Tags, NBC 4 Washington>>
- Licensed to Bill, Snopes>>

The Bolivian buses of death

It looked just like an ordinary bus.

An older man named Macario left his house at 4:00 am in El Alto, Bolivia. He was on his way to the bank to collect his monthly pension. He got on a small 16-passenger bus. His 25-cent fare was collected, as it usually was, by an indigenous woman. He sat in the front seat.

Suddenly he saw a blue scarf flung over his head. It was pulled tightly against his neck. He fought back, but someone hit him in the ribs and face. He passed out.

He woke up in a dumpster. His cell phone and money were gone.

He was lucky.

A gang of thieves was running fake buses between 4 and 6 in the morning, when legitimate buses are scarce and there are few police on the streets. The driver, fare-taker and any passengers on the bus were all members of the gang. They cruised El Alto looking for people to rob. Victims would be strangled with a rope or scarf and stripped of their valuables and clothes. Then they would be dumped off the bus.

Some of the victims were dumped alive, and some were strangled to death.

Police arrested eight members of the gang and seized four buses. They estimate that the gang might have killed 69 people over 13 months.

Bolivia police: stranglers lured victims on buses, Associated Press, Google>>

Trust me - you must watch this video

Sprinkling powder - this is when the artist has his moment 
of art inspiration.

I'm not going to tell you details about this video. It seems as if artist Clayton Sotos is explaining his creative process in a long commercial promoting Dell computers. But I promise you that the three minutes and thirty seconds you spend watching it will be worth it. You might get a little bored in the middle, but I assure you that if you watch closely, in the end you'll be rewarded.

NOTE - Do not have any liquids in your mouth while watching the last part of this video.

ALSO NOTE - This video might be slightly NSFW in the end.

Visual Innovators - Clayton Sotos for Dell computer

Clayton Sotos - Visual Innovators from Visual Innovators on Vimeo.

3 folds by Caroline Heider (optical illusions)

What's under the fold?

Artist Caroline Heider folds existing magazine pages to create new ways of looking at the images.


Is some one or some thing missing?


Is it a surreal vision of despair?

Caroline Heider, Triennale Linz>>

The weird connection between Princess Diana and Osama bin Laden

What strange thing links these two dead people?

Some conspiracy theorists think they're both still alive.

Why?

One reason is that it's difficult to change the belief of someone who believes in a conspiracy theory.

Normal logic doesn't quite apply. Those who want to believe will believe even if two of their beliefs contradict each other.

A study by University of Kent psychologists found that the same people who believed that Princess Diana was assassinated in a plot by the intelligence service were also the ones who believed she might have faked her own death.

And people who believed that Osama bin Laden was dead before he was officially declared dead were also the ones who believed that he was probably still alive.

What's going on here? How can these people believe two things that are mutually exclusive?

It actually makes sense - if you're someone who believes that authorities (like the government) are deceptive and lying to you, you're going to choose to not believe those authorities, no matter what they say.

As the authors of the study say: "Any official explanation is at a disadvantage, and any alternative explanation is more credible from the start."

In other words, if you don't trust the source, why would you believe anything it says?

- Research from the U.K.'s University of Kent shows that a strong distrust of authorities can lead people to embrace just about anything. Study of the Day: Conspiracy Buffs Will Believe Even the Impossible, The Atlantic>>
- Dead and Alive: Beliefs in Contradictory Conspiracy Theories (Opens PDF directly), Social Psychological and Personality Science, Sage Publications>>

Does a nonfiction article need facts?

Do photos need all their pixels to be true?

John D’Agata wrote an essay and a magazine accepted it, but the magazine's fact-checker said there were some facts that were wrong. Mr. D'Agata and the fact-checker, Jim Fingal, spent seven years trying to hash out what was true and what was not true. John D’Agata then published a book, along with all the correspondence between the two, called The Lifespan of a Fact.

Slate writer Dan Kois writes an article to explain:
I wonder how any reader can take D’Agata seriously when “What Happens There,” the essay being checked in Lifespan, is rife with inaccuracies, altered quotes, half-remembered events, and outright falsehoods. “You feel misled by my essay,” he said. “I accept that. You feel that it’s inappropriate for me to have done this. While I feel that it’s a necessary part of my job to do this. By taking these liberties, I’m making a better work of art—a truer experience for the reader—than if I stuck to the facts.”
Photo is of writer John D'Agata.

Facts Are Stupid. An essayist and his fact-checker go to battle over the line between true and false. Slate>>

A guy in New Zealand lied while drinking

Evidently, his roommate 
was not on the same team

Martin John Phillips was caught driving while drunk. He lied and gave his roommate's name instead of his own. He went to court, pleaded guilty, paid the fines and was forbidden to drive for eight months.

Of course, all this was done under his roommate's name.

His roommate, a truck driver, only discovered something was wrong when he was refused financing when trying to buy a new vehicle.

By this time, it was too late to charge Mr. Phillips with drunk driving.

Instead, Mr. Phillips received a new roommate, as he was sentenced to nine months in jail for lying.

- Flatmate disqualified in drink-driving deception, Stuff, New Zealand>>
- Sticker from Zazzle>>

What is this?

It's something you could see in your home.

This was created by Kredema Design, and it's the pattern part of something that can pop out of your wall. They call it "Off the Wall".


It's wallpaper, and it includes matching shelves.


It's available in different patterns, too.

Off the Wall, Kredema Design>>

Visions of 1930s Gypsy fortune tellers

This is how an imagined 1930s 
Gypsy fortune teller looks. 
Note the four-leaf clover earrings.
(Click to enlarge)

This female fortune teller with a crystal ball is a photograph by Russell Froelich, taken in the 1930s.  Russell E. Froelich was a newspaper photographer for various newspapers in St. Louis, Missouri from 1915 - 1950. From the Missouri History Museum.


This is how four actual 1930s Roma 
(Gypsy) women look.
Notice the looks on their faces.
(Click to enlarge)

This is an image of four Roma women, possibly arrested for telling fortunes, from a New York Police Department arrest photograph, July 21, 1934. Original source unknown.

- Russell Froelich Collection, Missouri History Museum>>
- Missouri History Museum, Flickr>>
- Flickr source for photo of Roma fortune tellers>>

10 years Brigitte Marier's been lying

Five of Brigitte's faces

In 2000, a woman named Brigitte Marier is arrested in Florida for, in legal terms, “theft, uttering forged instrument, and grand theft,” which means she stole money, possibly by passing a forged check.

A year later, she’s in Colorado Springs, Colorado, waitressing at a Denny’s restaurant and calling herself Brigitte Cleroux. She meets a man named Brian Andrews and gets pregnant. His mom helps her get a job as a nurse. But she doesn’t have the required education or license, and is caught and arrested. She convinces the judge she has business in Florida and promises she’ll be back.

She never returns.

While in Florida, Brigitte Marier is charged with having a false ID and possessing blank prescription forms.

In 2002, she has a daughter.

She marries a man named Mario.

In 2006, she’s in Canada, and is arrested, fined and sentenced to six months in jail for impersonating a nurse at a hospital.

She befriends a family named Fournier, who move into her house. When the Fournier’s move out, they leave lots of their stuff in Brigitte Marier’s basement.

When they send someone to pick it up, it’s gone.

She steals the Fournier name to get a temporary ID card, and goes to work as a nurse by forging a nurse’s permit.

She leaves her nursing job and begins working as a teacher. She’s liked by students and staff. The only problem is her frequent absences. She tells them she has to leave a lot because she has skin cancer.

She doesn’t have skin cancer. During her absences, she’s starting a hair salon.

In 2009, Brigitte Marier and a woman named Cheryl open a hair salon. But when Cheryl goes to get her kids from school one day, the principal shows her something on his computer – mug shots of Brigitte Marier. He tells her she’s not a schoolteacher, not a nurse, doesn’t have a license to be a hairdresser…

She’s fired as a teacher. The hair salon closes.

Marier and her husband and daughter move out of their rental home, owing three months back rent.

Police say she’s been arrested again.

As of 2012, she's about 40 years old. There’s no word on exactly where she is right now.

- A decade of deception; Staff at a Calgary school were not the first to be fooled by an alleged string of cons and false identities that police across North America have linked to Brigitte Marier, Calgary Herald>>
- Woman's bogus credentials got her teaching, nursing jobs, The Star Phoenix>>

The convincing gibberish of Dr. Fox

Translation: "Flrbbbbb!"

In 1970, Dr. Myron L. Fox gave a twenty-minute lecture to physicians during a continuing education retreat. He was introduced as an expert on the application of mathematics to human behavior. He was not. In fact, he was not a doctor. He was actually the actor "Michael Fox", hired by three professors to start a discussion on how to improve learning. He gave the lecture based on an article they'd given him on game theory - which he knew nothing about  - and was told to improvise, invent and spout nonsense.

Nobody noticed.

The professors realized that trying to evaluate whether students actually learned from a teacher's lecture would be difficult, because students could be wowed by the style, give great marks to the teacher, and still learn nothing.

The audience reaction to these types of teaching performances - where dazzle masked a lack of content - became known as the "Dr. Fox effect."

Another odd effect of the lecture: after Dr. Fox was revealed to be a fraud who was mostly spouting nonsense, some of the doctors were interested in learning more about the subject of game theory.

The doctors were also much more skeptical about subsequent lecturers on that retreat.

"Hey, I recognize him!"
Four years earlier, Michael Fox 
played "Inspector Basch" 
on the 1966 Batman TV show.

The Dr Fox Lecture



(On an unrelated note, actor Michael Fox is not related to actor Michael J. Fox, who supposedly, due to Screen Actor Guild rules, had to add the "J" to his name to distinguish himself from Michael Fox.)

I found this thanks to "Dr. Fox's Lecture" on Metafilter>>

Explore further:

- The Legendary Dr Fox Lecture - Footage Found! Weird Experiments>>
- THE DOCTOR FOX LECTURE: A PARADIGM OF EDUCATIONAL SEDUCTION. Donald H. Naftulin, M.D., John E. Ware, Jr., and Frank A. Donnelly. Journal of Medical Education, University of Quebec, Montreal>>
- The Secret Lives of Big Pharma's 'Thought Leaders', The Chronicle of Higher Education>>
- Onomatopeia, Batmania>>

5 photos of fake wax humans (some cut open)

Wax Department Store Mannequin (closeup)

These photographs of real-looking wax figures were part of The Secret Museum Exhibition by Joanna Ebenstein from the blog Morbid Anatomy. The exhibit explored "the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world in photographs and artifacts."


Wax Department Store Mannequin, 
Early 20th Century; From the Home 
Collection of Evan Michelson, 
Antiques Dealer, New Jersey


Venus Endormie (breathing model), 
Spitzner collection 
Collection Spitzner, Musée Orfila, 
Paris Courtesy Université 
Paris Descartes


"The Slashed Beauty" 
Wax model with human hair and pearls 
in rosewood and Venetian glass case, 
“La Specola” (Museo di Storia Naturale), 
Florence, Italy " Probably modeled by 
Clemente Susini (around 1790)



Popular Anatomical Wax Model, 
19th or Early 20th Century, 
Backroom, Foundation Deutsches 
Hygiene-Museum in Dresden, Germany

- "The Secret Museum," Photography Exhibition, Observatory, Morbid Anatomy (surveying the interstices of art and medicine, death and culture)>>
- The Secret Museum Exhibition, 2010, Flickr>>

Did grandpa's tie have a sexy secret?

The one on the far right is a bit obvious,
but if you look under other vintage ties,
you might see a little cheesecake.

So, was grandpa deceiving grandma with a secretly naughty 1950s tie? When you lifted up the bottom edge you would reveal a slightly "naughty" secret. Yet by today's standards...

Can't you imagine a 1950's scene where an obnoxious salesman wears one of these to his lodge meeting and shows the other fellahs?


The secret split-rail fence 
girlie peek-a-boo tie



The leopard bikini girlie 
peek-a-boo tie



The Jane Mansfield 
(before she was a famous 
actress) blond bombshell 
girlie peek-a-boo tie



The tropical Hawaiian 
girlie peekaboo tie

Collectible Vintage Neckties & Girlie Ties -- 1940s & 1950s, American Vintage>>