The 6 Most Cynical Exploitations of Romantic Love in History

#3. A Wife Gets Her Husband to Pay a Fake Ransom ... Over and Over

But let's not imagine that grossly cynical exploitations of love come only from governments and giant corporations. We're just as quick to run this sort of scam on each other.

Who among you has never exchanged a blow job for a romantic comedy?

For instance, how's your relationship with your exes? Strained? Awesome? Thank your stars that you never married Josefa Vargas.

In 2001, the daughter of Josefa Sanchez Vargas was kidnapped by "strangers." Notice the quotes around that last word, and picture us making them in the air above our heads with our fingers. These strangers demanded 30,000 euros, a ransom Josefa's estranged husband Pedro paid gladly. The next year, he paid 48,000 euros just as gladly when his daughter was again abducted, because whaddya gonna do?

Not every father can throat-punch like Liam Neeson.

Still in love but no more the wiser, Pedro headed back home and trusted that his wife wouldn't up and get their daughter abducted a third time, because what the hell would be the odds of that? She didn't.

His son, Emilio, was next.

This 36,000-euro ransom was demanded by a clothing wholesaler Josefa owed money to, because apparently in Spain people are allowed to take 36,000 euros worth of attire from middlemen without paying first. Pedro coughed up the money, but it wasn't enough for Emilio to not get kidnapped a second time in 2004, after he allegedly lost a package of cocaine worth 54,000 euros. Rather than freak the hell out over yet another family kidnapping, or the fact that his son was transporting cocaine, Pedro paid the ransom and let sleeping dogs lie.

"Psht. Fifty grand's worth? That's barely 'walking around' cocaine."

It took two more rapid-fire kidnappings for poor Pedro to wise up to the fact that normal families do not see this many kidnappings in one lifetime. After Josefa blamed an abduction of one of her children on a gypsy family, Pedro finally hired a private investigator, who confirmed what common sense would have told literally anyone but Pedro: His beloved wife was behind all of these "kidnappings" and ransom requests.

Josefa's last ransom came in September 2006. This time she persauded her son to call his dad and pretend to be under torture and threat of death, which he did. Dad paid, and minutes later Emilio was found, safe and untortured, having drinks with friends. Josefa was arrested and sentenced to 3 1/2 years for fraud, and Pedro renounced his right to reclaim back money -- because he "still had feelings" for his wife.

Now we don't feel so bad that our wives keep leaving as soon as they get naturalized.

#2. A Woman's Reputation Ruined Because She Stood by Her Spy Boyfriend

James Bond movies are about cool gadgets, sexy accents, explosions and large-breasted women with ridiculous names. There's a new girl in every film, and most of them end the movie "debriefing" 007. And then ... they're gone. In the real world, the aftermath of a love affair would be pretty gut-wrenching, as evidenced by real-life Bond girl Dagmar Lahlum.

Her name translates to "Labianne Fantastic" in Bond-English.

During World War II, Dagmar Lahlum was a member of the Norwegian resistance movement, meaning she was an anti-Nazi in a Nazi-occupied country. Which was why it was weird when she hooked up with a guy she believed was an actual German Nazi, or at least a sympathizer. But he wasn't a Nazi at all -- he was British double agent Eddie Chapman, nicknamed Agent ZigZag.

Since the two lovers were on the same ideological side, you'd think they'd live happily ever after, right? Not exactly. Dagmar's friends and countrymen thought her new boyfriend was a Nazi, which didn't go over too well with the whole "Nazi resistance collective." And she couldn't correct them because, you know, he was undercover. So Dagmar was universally branded a German whore and a traitor by her neighbors, and Chapman made her swear never to spill his true identity. She didn't, because she loved him too much.

And who wouldn't love a face like ... like ... Jesus, is that a mustache, or did he spend a few hours every morning sucking on an exhaust pipe?

And then he left her.

She was tried for treason in 1947 while ZigZag was too busy making love to a string of beautiful women to come back to clear her name. Poor Dagmar lived the rest of her days as a disgraced outcast, a fate we wouldn't wish on more than, like, three Bond girls.

#1. A Woman Lives a Fake Marriage to Let Rock Hudson Pretend to be Straight

For millions of young girls raised on pop culture's abiding teat, it doesn't get much better than marrying a movie star. Who wouldn't want to be plucked from a dead-end job by someone with outlandish good looks and millions of dollars? That's pretty much the American dream, as described by Disney Channel Original Movies.

Minnesota farm girl Phyllis Gates certainly thought she had hit the dreamboat jackpot when she landed in Hollywood, got herself a secretarial job for agent Henry Willson and found herself hobnobbing with one of his clients, hunky Rock Hudson.

Those yellow letters followed him around everywhere.

In 1954, Hudson was the sexiest chunk of beefcake on the planet. He was the symbol of male sexuality for a generation of people who had literally fought Nazis. He was also a bachelor, which was pretty much enough to make any girl within earshot fall madly in love.

He had literally every quality a man should have.

Encouraged by her boss/his agent, Hudson and Gates actually began to date. After a whirlwind, storybook romance, they married on Nov. 9, 1955. They had two children and lived happily ever after until they divorced three years later. Turns out Hudson was gayer than an Elton John/Freddie Mercury mashup, and the whole marriage had been concocted by Willson to satisfy demands from MGM that Rock end his suspiciously long bachelorhood.

And Hudson had good reason to fake-marry. This same studio had ruined the career of William Haines a few years earlier after his refusal to submit to a sham marriage (or "lavender marriage") to conceal his raging case of Gay. And that fella's name was placed in an actual Doom Book that blocked him out of work anywhere in the industry.


So Rock gained straight-man street cred and got a divorce under his belt, while Phyllis got two kids and (our office guess) less than seven orgasms. She never married again, and when she died, people speculated that she'd actually been a secret lesbian all along. That's how Hollywood works, kids. Come and get some.

Be sure to pick up our new book for your Valetine. Your reward will surely be hot monkey sex.

For more modern ideas that were here before us, check out 10 Divorce Stories Too Strange to Make Up. Or check out more experts of espionage in 5 Spies with Bigger Balls Than James Bond.

And stop by our friends at HuffPo to learn The 13 Cheesiest Lines From Romantic Comedies.

Need the tough questions about Valentine's day answered? Cracked's got your back.

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