The 50 worst charities in America

Some charities have made a deal 
with the devil.

The Kid's Wish Network tops the list of the worst charities in America in a comprehensive investigative report on charities by The Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting.

For instance, the Kid's Wish Network raises millions every year, but only gives 3 cents of every dollar raised to help dying kids. Experts say that legitimate charities that use fundraisers give about 65 cents of every dollar.

Here's what else reporters found:
  • Crappy charities name themselves so that their name is similar to other, more legitimate charities. (Were you confused by Kid's Wish Network? Maybe you thought it was the well-known Make-A-Wish Foundation, which doesn't use a telemarketing firm. And don't confuse it with either the Children's Wish Foundation International, or the Wishing Well Foundation...)
  • They inflate the types or costs of the items they give to the needy. ("Here, kid, here's a 25 cent coloring book. Accountant, mark that down as a 25 dollar expense...")
  • Some are merely "charity" fronts for fundraising companies. (And some pay for advice or services from members of their own family, or from themselves as "consultants".)
  • Some have been repeatedly investigated by states and others have been banned. (When regulators slapped one charity down, it popped up again under a new name.)
The article makes the point that lots of money that could have been donated to help people has instead been diverted:
"Collectively the 50 worst charities raised more than $1.3 billion over the past decade and paid nearly $1 billion of that directly to the companies that raise their donations."
The problem for some charities is that they make very little money by fundraising on their own, so they make a deal with the telemarketing devil. The charity makes more money... but of course the devil makes even more.

How can you avoid bad charities who call? The paper advices you to find out exactly who they and where the money goes, but here's better advice: Never give money to anybody who calls you. Never, never, never. Instead, decide for yourself who you want to support, and give them money, or your time, directly.

You can be assured of one thing: charities cannot steal the time that you donate to them.

Want to see if your charity is one of the worst? Search the database of the 50 worst: America's Worst Charities>>

Want to see if your charity has been fined by regulators? Search the database of disciplinary actions>>

Read the entire article: America's 50 worst charities rake in nearly $1 billion for corporate fundraisers, Tampa Bay Times>>

The economics professor with a magical secret

Karlini was excited to be a magician.

Larry Smith, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, gave a TED talk with this subject: why you will fail to have a great career. But his talk was actually about magic. Watch his performance and you'll know why.

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career, Talks, TEDx>>

The secret about national security secrets

This post contains a valuable secret 
about national security that 
they don't want you to know.

It's from an article in The New York Times, and it's based on psychological research done at the University of Colorado:
In a recent series of studies that we will present in a forthcoming issue of the journal Political Psychology, we have shown that people apply what we call a “secrecy heuristic” — a rule of thumb, in other words — when evaluating the quality of information related to national security. People rate otherwise identical pieces of information as more accurate, reliable and of higher quality when they are labeled secret rather than public. And people tend to think that national security decisions are wiser and better-reasoned when based on the same information labeled secret rather than public.
In other words - and this probably works for a lot of information out there - when national security information is labeled secret, you'll think that the information is better.

We forget that secret information might be judged secret for many reasons besides its actual importance.

It seems that this might work in marketing, too:

"The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne

I've got to start calling this blog "The Secrets of Deception".

Read more: Do You Wanna Know a Secret? The New York Times>>

The deceptions of women with multiple breasts

Deception due to an incorrect 
identification of anatomy.

All nipples have been pixellated for your safety.

Deception due to prosthetic appliance

Actress Lycia Naff, who played the prostitute Mary in the 1990 movie Total Recall, was repeatedly asked if they were real.

Another deception due to prosthetic appliance

Actress Kaitlyn Leeb appeared in the 2012 remake of the movie Total Recall. Here she appears in her costume at Comic Con. She was also repeatedly asked if they were real.

Deception due to Photoshop
and wishful thinking

Deception due to historical inaccuracy

This old statue of the Greek goddess, Artemis of Ephesus, appears to have multiple breasts. Yet scholars now believe that what's hanging from her chest are not breasts but other symbols of fertility, and are either eggs, gourds, or bull testicles.

No deception -
this is the reality of a three-breasted woman

The medical condition called polymastia is the condition of having multiple breasts. Breasts may appear with or without nipples. It's also called pleomastia, accessory breasts, supernumerary breasts, multiple breast syndrome, or mammae erraticae. It can occur in either men or women, and since the additional appendage can be uncomfortable or embarrassing (and can get breast cancer), many choose to have the extra breast or breasts removed.

So, two guys walked into a bar (a very old bar)...

Ladies of the evening invite our guys upstairs.

As a promo for the BBC TV series Copper, the group Improv Everywhere, who play elaborate practical jokes, transfomed a Brooklyn bar into a saloon from 1860s New York. Then they had people ask their unwitting friends out for a drink.

The 1860s Bar

The 1860s Bar, Improv Everywhere>>

A museum's Egyptian statue mystery

He's a sneaky 10-inch-tall guy named Neb-Senu.

This 3,800-year-old statue from a mummy's tomb, which sits in a locked display cabinet at the Manchester Museum in the UK, has been acting strange.

Museum curators keep finding him facing the wrong way, so they set up a time-lapse camera and were astonished to see him visibly and slowly spinning around.

Is the explanation supernatural (a mummy's curse), scientific, (vibrations cause the spin) pranksterism ("wouldn't it be funny if..."), or a publicity stunt ("we need more museum-goers")?

Can you solve the mystery?

Manchester Museum suggests you stop by and take a closer look.

Spinning Statuette in Manchester Museum

The mystery of the spinning Egyptian statue, The History Blog>>

An umbrella stand, waiting for an umbrella

Umbrella Stand, Shiro Kuramata 
(Japanese, 1934–1991)

There's also this illusion:

The OBA-Q lamp, made from a rigid plastic sheet.

These are two of the lesser-known works of this Japanese designer, who used industrial materials like glass, acrylic and steel mesh to create chairs, vases and tables.

Why we are all drag queens

Both faces are "real".

New York photographer Leland Bobbé took a series of portrait photos he calls "Half Drag." Men with a female drag queen persona made themselves up with half their face female and half male.

These photos are an updated version of the subject of my previous post on sideshow "hermaphrodites" - the circus or carnival exhibits of a half man / half woman. (Why we are all hermaphrodites, Deceptology>>)

Those performers were trying to fool the public into believing that they were real medical oddities. Bobbé's subjects are showing us a similar illusion, yet they aren't trying to fool us. They're showing us two sides of the same person.

However, they're using some of the same "tricks" as those old sideshow performers to create their illusion, such as applying "female" makeup on only half a face.

These photos bring up the question of what's real and what's fake. If we hide our "real" selves by making up our faces and shaving and putting on different clothes and acting a certain way before we go out, aren't we all performing our own version of drag?

See more faces here: Half Drag, Leland Bobbé>>

Why we are all hermaphrodites

Why statistics can be deceptive 
and turn us all into "Albert-Alberta."

From a thread on Reddit called "What's the most intellectual joke you know?"
"A recent finding by statisticians shows the average human has one breast and one testicle."
Yes, it's a statistics joke.

The image above is an advertisement for "Albert-Alberta", a "Half-and-Half" who was exhibited in sideshows as an actual hermaphrodite. While in some cases the half-man, half-woman might have had actual physical differences from an exclusively male or female person, in almost all cases the "hermaphrodite" was a deception - half of the body would be made up, altered and dressed to look female, and the other half male.

In humans, a true hermaphrodite, or an individual possessing both testicles and ovaries, is rare. And of course no one naturally has one half of their body male and one half female.

Today, most people in the medical community use more accurate and sensitive terms to describe these sexually ambiguous conditions, and call such people "intersex". They are considered as having disorders of sex development.

I know of no statistics that give us the prevalence of intersex among statisticians.

- Reddit joke thread>>
- Sideshow World>>
- Intersex, NIH>>

Are these space photos real or fake?

Can you tell real photos of outer space 
from fake paintings of outer space?

It's a two minute and thirty-three second quiz.

How well do you know the universe?

Magician Dynamo levitates on a London bus

His feet are off the ground.

As a promotion for the drink Pepsi Max, the magician Dynamo performs magic using a London bus.

Pepsi Max & Dynamo present: "Bus Levitation"

You think he might have been inspired by this guy? The illusion of the floating man, Deceptology>>

A deceptive mechanical arm tattoo

(Click to enlarge)

The actresses at the audition - a prank

It was blackface and Hitler and meant to be offensive.

Katie Zouck showed up for an audition for a film in Los Angeles. From the Los Angeles Times:
"I'm here and my job as an actor is to take what I'm given, make it real for myself and justify the words, no matter how crazy I may judge them to be," the actress reasoned.

But she became increasingly suspicious as the audition process proceeded.

Production assistants came and went wearing headsets — as if they were on a real film set. Actresses comparing notes found they had been called for different parts. Some were told they would be auditioning for a dramatic lead, others for a comedy. All had been given "sides," the lines they would be asked to speak in the audition.

Some were asked if they felt comfortable being pranked, others if they were comfortable pranking others.

After two hours, her concern rising, Zouck decided she had had enough. She asked several production assistants whether the women auditioning were being filmed, and if so for what film and what director. No one would answer her questions.

She persisted, though, and finally got an explanation from Elle Viane Sonnet, an associate producer on the project: Every actress on the set was being pranked. The two "casting directors," it was later revealed, were the movie's two male leads — actors Whitmer Thomas and Drew Tarver.
About 30 actresses had shown up for a casting call and were given lines to read and actions that included performing in blackface, wearing Hitler mustaches and shouting Nazi slogans. But it wasn't an actual audition for a part, it was a portion of the film being filmed for a real movie called "May The Best Man Win", about two men pulling outrageous jokes.

Said Ms. Zouck:
"Every day as unknown working actors, we go to these cattle calls, and take time off work, but that's not what is upsetting," she said. "What is upsetting is that we did all that and it turned out they were making fun of us. I felt like an idiot actress. I felt violated."
Casting call turns out to be a prank. Los Angeles Times>>
Image found via martinmorblog>>

Seeing through her artwork

Elisabeth Patterson uses colored pencils 
to draw images of reality distorted by water.

She's from California, so she spends lots of time in her car, looking through the rain.

If you did not know her subject matter, you might easily confuse her drawings based on the real with drawings based on the abstract.


Her work is similar to Gregory Thielker (Fake images created outside a car window, Deceptology>>)

How to rip off people who like to travel

Stealing with a pineapple, and four other great scams.
  1. Con a sleeping hotel customer. Call a room in a hotel late at night and say you're the front desk calling, and there's been a problem with their credit card, so they need to verify their card number. Get their credit card number and spend lots of their money before they wake up.
  2. Get yourself a pineapple. A "pineapple is an electronic device that creates a fake WI-FI hotspot. Go to an area that has open WI-FI. When customers sign in, you can see everything they do. Hopefully they'll use their passwords, which of course you can use later to steal their money.
  3. Steal from a MoneyPak card. MoneyPak is an electronic service that loads money onto a prepaid debit card. Put up a fake ad on Craigslist and sell an airline ticket, but require that your buyer gives you the MoneyPak code. Cancel the ticket before they can use it, and refund the money to yourself.
  4. Skim to steal credit card info. Get yourself a skimmer (a device that reads credit card info but looks like a legitimate part of a credit card reader that attaches to an ATM or gas pump) Let customers put their cards in, and the device reads their card info.  If you work in a place that handles credit cards, get a handheld one so you can steal customer's credit card info.
  5. Rent a property you don't own. Put up an ad offering to rent a great vacation home on Craigslist. (Steal the photos from a real place, of course.) Get a sucker who's ready to rent, send them an official-looking contract, and have them wire you money via Western Union. Wiring money that way is untraceable and anonymous, so you've got their money, and they've got nothing.
Thanks to the helpful how-to-do-crime article at Time Magazine: 5 Summer Travel Scams to Avoid, Time Magazine>>

The naked nose boob - an optical illusion

It's from the artwork for the single "Tunnel Vision" 
from Justin Timberlake's album "The 20/20 Experience."

The Hong Kong Peak Tram optical illusion

It's the car that's tilted, yet...

A study in Psychological Science details an illusion riders can experience when riding the Peak Tramway, a train which travels up and down a steep slope on Hong Kong Island.

Said lead researcher Chia-huei Tseng:
"On one trip, I noticed that the city's skyscrapers next to the tram started to appear very tilted, as if they were falling, which anyone with common sense knows is impossible... The gasps of the other passengers told me I wasn't the only one seeing it."
Researchers discovered that the illusion seems to be enhanced by the window frames and other details inside the train car, and even when they modified those details, the illusion continued.

It seems that, in this illusion, an observer's sense of sight predominates over any other sensory cue, and even overrides a very obvious fact: buildings can't tilt like that.

Take a look at this video to see the illusion yourself (It appears within the time-frame of 1:40 - 2:35.)

Hong Kong Peak Tram

- Hong Kong skyscrapers appear to fall in real-world illusion, Science Codex>>
- Article abstract: Falling Skyscrapers. When Cross-Modal Perception of Verticality Fails, Psychological Science>>

Wondering about wonder. Why do we?

A wonderful circus poster

Why did humans evolve so that they can experience the emotion of wonder? Jesse Prinz, a professor of philosophy: 
Wonder is sometimes said to be a childish emotion, one that we grow out of. But that is surely wrong. As adults, we might experience it when gaping at grand vistas. I was dumbstruck when I first saw a sunset over the Serengeti. We also experience wonder when we discover extraordinary facts. I was enthralled to learn that, when arranged in a line, the neurons in a human brain would stretch the 700 miles from London to Berlin. But why? What purpose could this wide-eyed, slack-jawed feeling serve? It’s difficult to determine the biological function of any affect, but whatever it evolved for (and I’ll come to that), wonder might be humanity’s most important emotion.

First, let’s be clear what we’re talking about. My favourite definition of wonder comes from the 18th-century Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith, better known for first articulating the tenets of capitalism. He wrote that wonder arises ‘when something quite new and singular is presented… [and] memory cannot, from all its stores, cast up any image that nearly resembles this strange appearance’. Smith associated this quality of experience with a distinctive bodily feeling — ‘that staring, and sometimes that rolling of the eyes, that suspension of the breath, and that swelling of the heart’.

These bodily symptoms point to three dimensions that might in fact be essential components of wonder. The first is sensory: wondrous things engage our senses — we stare and widen our eyes. The second is cognitive: such things are perplexing because we cannot rely on past experience to comprehend them. This leads to a suspension of breath, akin to the freezing response that kicks in when we are startled: we gasp and say ‘Wow!’ Finally, wonder has a dimension that can be described as spiritual: we look upwards in veneration; hence Smith’s invocation of the swelling heart.
Although he never mentions it, deception can also be integral to the emotion of wonder - optical illusions, magic, perspective in paintings, acting in movies  - all use deception to create a sense of wonder. We might ask not only why we feel wonder, but why does our brain allow certain sensory or thinking mistakes to become wondrous?

Read the essay (it's worthwhile if you're the type who thinks about wonder): How wonder works. One emotion inspired our greatest achievements in science, art and religion. We can manipulate it – but why do we have it? Aeon Magazine>>
- Poster is from Mr. Fips Wonder Circus>>

Find the optical illusion in these 4 photos

The image above may not be what you think it is.
(Click to enlarge)

There's a powerful optical illusion in the image above.

Bela Borsodi took the photograph as an album cover for the band VLP. And unlike many photographers who manipulate their images after they've taken a photo, Mr. Borsodi manipulated his objects in the real world, and then took his photo.

Can you see it? Take another look, then scroll down.

The answer: The image is one photo, and he manipulated all the common objects to appear to be four separate photos.

This video explains his process:

VLP - Terrain cover photo

Found via: Single photograph looks like 4 individual photographs, Kottke>>
- Bela Borsodi>>
- VLP>>

How to con an old man

Ray thought Melvin (inset) was his friend.

Many times you'll see portrayals of con men in the movies and TV as charming, witty guys who use clever strategies to separate fools from their money. The victims will seem to deserve getting ripped off, and we'll all want to scold the victims with the wise advice:
"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
Except in the real world, con men can be bastards.

Ray White is an 88-year-old World War II veteran from Philadelphia. He made friends with a man named Melvin Mcilwaine, who noticed that Mr. White owned two vintage cars in mint condition, a Bentley and a Cadillac. Mr. White, who has no living relatives, took Mr. Mcilwaine out to lunch and they talked about their love of old cars.

Over the course of months, Mr. Mcilwaine told Mr. White that his cars were not safe in the garage where he had them, and they needed to be moved to a safer location. He convinced Mr. White to transfer the car titles to him.

Then he said he needed money to keep the cars safe, so he persuaded Mr. White to take out a $20,000 loan against his house.

And his neighborhood was unsafe, so he should move...

Mr. White was scammed out of his cars, his home was cleared out and all the items in it were stolen, and his house was sold.

He lost everything.

I'm not sure of the exact techniques Mr. Mcilwaine used on Mr. White, but from what I've learned it seems to be a combination of gaining his confidence as a friend, lying, confusion, and intimidation.

Mr. Mcilwaine was arrested and charged with theft by deception.

Mr. White was embarrassed and angry, yet he survived and said this about the trial of his former friend:
"I think he was counting on me dying, but I have been holding on for this day... I’m not vindictive, I just don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else. Death is a kinder fate.”
- South Philadelphia man scammed out of his house and cars, Philadelphia Inquirer>>
- South Philly WWII Vet Ready for Trial of Man Charged With Scamming Him Out of $380,000, The Philly Post>>

What is magical about this beached sperm whale?

Scientists administer to the body of a dead 
sperm whale which has beached itself near 
the River Thames in Greenwich, England.

Why does this belong to deception? Because the event of the beached whale is a performance, and the whale itself is a fake, a hyper-realistic statue:
We place the statue on the beach during the night and prepare bleeding and smell. In the morning the carcass is fenced, to keep people at a distance. We create of circle of about seven meters around the statue. Within this perimeter, the beaching is a true fact. The actors within the fence never drop their cover. They are scientific and official figures of a fictitious organization, the North Sea Whale Association.

Fully equipped they conduct scientific experiments. Measuring the carcass, taking samples of organs and skin, preparing the cutting. When they interact with the crowd or the press it is about possible causes of death, the history of the animal, its life style and why it beaches. They show their findings (teeth, spermaceti oil, organs, parasites…) and hand out extra information about sperm whales. They ignore or ridicule suggestions that it is a fake animal. During previous beachings, there was a cooperation with real scientific organizations, who, for the sake of education and fun, simulated their intervention in the case of a beaching. Gradually, the scientists/actors become more eccentric and other story lines are developed. A controversy about who will get the carcass/skeleton; the danger of explosion, the dead whale as an omen. There is a shift from the purely scientific discourse, to the register of myth and emotion. Conflicts and misunderstandings are also typical for hard-working scientists.


The psychological archetype of the dead big fish leaves no one untouched. It stirs and mobilizes a local community. During our beachings, we see an intensive interaction among the crowd. People address each other, speculate and wonder. They offer help and ask for information. The different layers of perception create funny games. Some audience members know it is a work of art but feed the illusion to other people. The sperm whale appeals to everyone, regardless of social or cultural background. It is the place where everyone gets together. That’s why it is vital it beaches on a public spot that is freely accessible.
­- The why of the whale, Captain Boomer Collective>>
­- The Great Greenwich Whale>>

A double negative means it's a hoax hoax

James Gandolfini has died.

It seems every week I read about another celebrity death: Justin Bieber, Morgan Freeman, Bill Cosby - they've all died.

Of course, all of them were not dead.

The reports of their deaths were hoaxes, which in our age of fast news can spread, well, very fast.

On June 19th, 2013, the actor James Gandolfino, best known for his role in the TV show The Sopranos, died while in Italy.

And in the face of so many fake deaths, the news spread that his death was actually a hoax.

So the news that his death was a hoax was, itself, a hoax.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gandolfino has actually died. Rest in peace.

- News That James Gandolfini's Death Is a Hoax Is a Hoax, Urban Legends, About>>
- Celebrity death hoaxes at Snopes>>
- Celebrity Hoaxes, Hoax Slayer>>
- Actor James Gandolfini dead at age 51, CNN>>

Why did the FBI run a child porn website?

In November 2012, FBI agents in Nebraska had a problem. They'd uncovered an online bulletin board web site with over 5,000 users who shared pornographic images of children, but they weren't able to identify any of the customers. So for two weeks, the FBI let the site continue to run while they collected information, and then they shut it down.

As of June 2013, no arrests have occurred.

From the San Francisco Chronicle>>
At the time the service was shuttered it had more than 5,600 users and 24,000 posts, nearly all of which related to child pornography. At least 10,000 photos of children being posed nude, raped or otherwise abused were broadcast through the site.

Writing the court, the special agent recounted the site users’ discussions on how to avoid detection by police. One went so far as to publish a lengthy guide on encryption, and protections placed on the service impeded investigators’ work.

Most often, though, “Website A” users chatted about their shared interests – the rape and molestation of children.
- FBI shared child porn to nab pedophiles; Washington home raided, SF Gate>>
- Image is from an anti online child pornography commercial by ECPAT France, YouTube>>

The reason behind an old optical illusion book

"This black skeleton will make a white spectre."

A book of optical illusions published by J.H. Brown in 1864 was called “Spectropia or Surprising Spectral Illusions Showing Ghosts Everywhere and of any Colour”.

Click to enlarge

Mr. Brown explained that if you stared at one of his images for 15 seconds and then moved your eyes to a white surface, you'd see an afterimage produced by the complimentary color of the original image. (And he was right.)

The book had a serious intention. Mr. Brown wanted to stop the "mental epidemic" of Spiritualism, the widely-held belief of his time that those who died could be contacted by spirit mediums. He wanted to debunk this belief by showing his readers how ghosts could be seen scientifically through optical illusions.

Found via a post at the blog Morbid Anatomy: Spectropia - Mirage and Ghost Stories at the Morbid Anatomy Library: Guest Post by Laetitia Barbier, Morbid Anatomy>>

A pixellated sculpture by Banksy

"Cardinal Sin" by Banksy

"I'm never sure who deserves to be put on a pedestal or crushed under one," said the artist.

A simple elevator prank involving superpowers

Yes, a Dalek would be another 
reason to take the stairs.

Usually, there are two things a good prank needs - proper preparation and proper execution. In this prank, the idea is simple and brilliant, so the pranksters could skimp on the preparation.  Brilliant. My congrats to JesterLads.

Star Wars Elevator Prank

Graphic from Boyce Duprey, Flickr>>

When real clouds look fake

Mammatus Clouds

Nature likes to mess with our concept of what we think looks real.

Cirrus Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds

Roll Clouds

Undulatus Asperatus Clouds

See more real clouds, here: Beautiful strange and rare cloud formations (23 pictures), Memolition>>

Harry Blackstone, World's Master Magician

A Blackstone souvenir program

Harry Blackstone was a famous stage magician in the middle part of the 20th Century. I think if you watch him perform, you might be able to figure out why.

Harry Blackstone's philosophy on magical deception: 
“Magic overcomes frustration. It doesn’t need to be sleight of hand. It’s nothing but pure psychology applied in the right place."
One of his illusions, also known as the "Afghan Bands", is a topological magic trick based on the Möbius strip, a one-sided surface discovered by mathemeticians in 1858. It's what magicians call a "self-working" trick, which means that the magical part of the trick is so simple that pretty much anyone can do it. What makes it magical, however, is how it's presented. Blackstone called it "Santa's Necktie."

Harry Blackstone Sr. "Santa's Necktie"

During much of Blackstone's show he was silent while he performed larger illusions. Here's an example.

Harry Blackstone Magic Illusion

Blackstone's "Bunny Trick" showcases his masterful interaction with a young audience volunteer.

Harry Blackstone Sr. "Bunny Trick"

Here, Blackstone performs three illusions on the CBS TV show "It's Magic!" in 1956: "The Drum That Can't Be Beat", "The Dancing Handkerchief" and "The Buzz Saw Illusion."

Harry Blackstone Sr. - It's Magic! 1956

Harry Blackstone Senior's son, Harry Blackstone Junior, was also a magician. Both men have passed away.

- Möbius strip, Wikipedia>>
- Harry Blackstone, Sr. (1885-1965), All About Magicians>>
- How Harry Blackstone brought magic to Michigan, The Detroit News>>

Pixellated Minecraft costume

Playing a bit too much Minecraft, maybe?

Writer Gloria Oliver took this photo at Animefest 2011.


Once a deceiver, always a deceiver?

Jeremy Johnson

Maybe you shouldn't act like a deceptionist when you're trying to prove you're not a deceptionist.

I've mentioned the fraud case against Jeremy Johnson once before, over a year ago, when The Salt Lake City Tribune did an article on him. (He gave, and he took away - the fraud and charity of gambling addict Jeremy Johnson, Deceptology>>)

Mr. Johnson is accused of using his former company, called I Works, of scamming people who thought they were getting a cheap CD-ROM about getting government grants but instead were having their credit cards repeatedly charged with ongoing "membership fees."

He's accused of cheating people out of more than $275 million.

He also set up over 50 shell companies so that credit card companies investigating customer complaints (and there were many) would find it difficult to close him down.

Many people also see him as a very generous person. For instance, he flew his own helicopter on a personal aid mission to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

The New York Times updates the progress in the U. S. government's case against him.

The entire article is a great read, but I love the kicker at the end.

Mr. Johnson has tried to defend his worsening case and reputation by registering websites to defend himself and attack the government, including one named, saying it was going to uncover “Dirty Deeds by Big Government.”

Mr Johnson had registered 30 domain names (such as and Government lawyers called his activities "shenanigans" and "harassment" and wanted a judge to shut the sites down.

Judge Roger L. Hunt refused, saying Mr. Johnson was free to express his opinions. However, he did offer some advice:
“You need to understand, sir, you are accused in this case of using the Internet to deceive people... When you use this procedure, process of multiple Web sites, which, in the court’s view, deceive or intended to misrepresent or deceive or mischaracterize the court, its appointed receiver or a governmental agency, it’s going to be difficult for you to convince me that you do not use the Internet to deceive at the time of trial.”
Read the article: In Utah, a Local Hero Accused, The New York Times>>

The live Photoshop bus stop prank

I think someone might be messing with me...

If you want to prank innocent people at a bus stop, you'll need a camera with a telephoto lens, a screen disguised as an advertising billboard, a wireless connection, and a man in a van with mad Photoshop skills. At least, that's what these guys in Finland needed.

Photoshop Live Street Retouch Prank