If you've never seen Flip This House on the A & E Channel (that'd be you, heterosexual men) the show revolves around people who buy old houses and then fix them up to sell for a profit. A & E, in an effort to illustrate how everyone could flip houses for huge profits, decided to feature a man named Sam Leccima. Of course when doing a show like this you want to make sure you have the right lighting; that you have the filming permits; and that the person who you are showing fixing and selling the house actually owns the house. You know, the small details that really make or break a show. You probably see where this is going, but if not, don't feel stupid; there's always doctoring!
Leccima got his friends and family to pretend they were potential buyers and then stuck some "sold" signs on the houses, and voila! TV Magic! It's just that he never owned the houses in the first place. Also, it turns out Leccima's realtor's license had been revoked, so he couldn't have legally sold the houses even if he'd owned them. Also he didn't actually "renovate" the houses, he just hid the bad spots from the cameras. Also, he was a clone from the mirror world.
But even after his 15 minutes of fame were up, Leccima continued to profit from the scam; viewers, believing that TV is a magic trust box full of wishes and earnestness, contacted him to invest their money based on his appearance on the show.
So how did he slip one by the cunning studio executives? He checked "yes" on the "do you own this house" box on the sign-up sheet. An executive at the channel actually admitted that they just take people at their word, and don't investigate any of the claims on their reality shows. Speaking of which, watch out for the new Cracked reality show coming to A&E in the fall!
A few years ago, criminals targeted a large grocery corporation based in Minnesota called SuperValu. They own some of the biggest super market chains in the country, and like all corporations, the dollar is their bottom line. They very tightly monitor every cent that flows in and out of, ah, just kidding! They hurl that shit at anything that moves until it goes away.
See, while the criminal's plan was to steal millions of dollars from the company--possibly by robbing the company's armored cars, hacking into the company's bank accounts or breaking into the company's headquarters and looting the vault--the options, as you can see, are not easy ones. So they just sent an email to SuperValu asking them to send the money instead; which they did. To the tune of more than $10 million.
Back in 2007, the accounting group at SuperValu received two emails, one from Frito-Lay and one from American Greetings. The emails told SuperValu that the bank accounts for these companies had changed and that all payments should be sent to the new accounts. As the emails did not come with a large picture of a pirate flag and blinking lights spelling out the word "Danger: Scam Ahoy!" SuperValu figured the emails simply must be legit.
Though one employee did actually try to confirm the authenticity of the emails, he was promptly suspended. Presumably for his Negative Nellying and Rampant Corporate Buzzkillery.
And so, based on nothing more than a few emails, SuperValu started sending money to the phony accounts. In the end, nine payments were made before someone at the company finally stopped spinning in circles trying to catch their own ass long enough to question why they were sending money to accounts opened by a company named Society Nights Productions, which sounds more like the erotic but villainous antagonists from Silk Stockings than a financial subsidiary of one of the world's largest snack companies. It was at this point that SuperValu called the police to report their own stupidity.
Officer Bobby dutifully recorded the complaint before returning to his paused game of Halo 3.
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To see more gutsy flimflammers, check out The 5 Ballsiest Con Artists of All Time. Or find out about some awesome robberies inspired by Hollywood, in 5 Real Bank Heists Ripped Right Out of the Movies.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 3.17.2010) to see found out more about that $16 million we want to split with you.