#2. Lin Chunping Makes Up a Bank and Fools China
In 2010, Lin Chunping became a financial celebrity, sort of like a younger, Chinese Warren Buffett. Somehow, even though Lin had jack shit in the way of banking qualifications, he had managed to negotiate the rights to a bankrupt American bank -- the Delaware-based Atlantic Bank, which had gone under in 2008. He renamed it the totally legit-sounding USA New HSBC Federation Consortium Inc., presumably hollowing out the base of an undersea volcano for the home office.
"The laser crocodiles ran into production issues, but we finished the acid pit well ahead of schedule."
Lin now had $40 million in deposits lined up, and as a result of his success, he landed a cushy position on a Chinese government advisory board. Meanwhile, the notoriously censored state-run media in China declared his business skills to be "legendary."
Well, that's one way to put it.
Lin Chunping, seen here frolicking in a mystic glen.
The problem with becoming a media sensation is that sometimes the news is read by people who actually know things. In Lin's case, journalists familiar with American banking took the wild step of actually double-checking his claims. It's not just that he was exaggerating his success with the Atlantic Bank in Delaware, it's that there was no such bank.
Nor was there any HSBC-licensed bank in Delaware (by then they weren't entirely convinced that Delaware was even a place).
Lin admitted that he'd made "exaggerations" to gain social status, which makes us wonder if he wasn't just telling all of this to a cute girl at a party when some government official overheard and said "You're hired!" The truth can't be much stupider, since either way it appears that in China, if you use strong enough words and enough exclamation points, no one will double-check a thing on your resume.
Also, for Chinese police, the week is apparently one long casual Friday.
#1. Andrew Wakefield Screws the MMR Vaccine
The MMR vaccine is an immunization shot you probably got as a baby that is supposed to prevent the measles and other diseases. These days, quite a few parents refuse the shot, because they heard somewhere that the vaccine somehow causes autism. They may have heard it from Jenny McCarthy or some other actor, but the whole thing goes back to a shady scientist named Andrew Wakefield.
A man with a face only a fist could love.
In 1998, Wakefield and 12 other scientists published a paper on 12 kids who had gastrointestinal and developmental issues. According to their totally objective parents, these issues only showed up after the kids got their MMR vaccine. After a crazy battery of tests that included sampling the kids' intestines and stabbing needles into their spines (as we have written countless times before, science is at its best when it is scaring children), Wakefield concluded that there might be some link between the MMR vaccine and the various ailments that had befallen the children.
Just like that, Wakefield became the champion of the anti-vaccination movement, spurring on a generation of parents who forgo vaccines for fear of giving their children autism or other developmental disorders.
"You know, some babies actually like whooping cough."
First, let's make it clear: The science shows that vaccines do not cause autism. If you don't believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can look at the tens of thousands of non-U.S. children whose autism (or lack thereof) hasn't been tied to vaccines (or lack thereof). However, the subject has been the source of fierce controversy over the past few years, and what is so terrifying about the sudden drop in vaccinations (other than the now-epidemic levels of previously controlled diseases) is that most of the controversy came from dime-store scientist Andrew Wakefield.
For starters, Wakefield's own scientist couldn't duplicate Wakefield's results. Wakefield also manipulated his data to ensure that children who were sick before getting the vaccine were reported as only being sick after. He flat-out changed results he didn't like or that didn't completely agree with his hypothesis, all while performing needless, painful tests on children.
We've mapped the whole situation out, in case you find it hard to follow.
So why would he do all that?
Well, there's the patent for a new MMR vaccine that Wakefield filled out before he published his paper, and the money he accepted from a legal aid fund that was trying to sue vaccine manufacturers (it's almost as if he had a massive financial stake in scaring people into believing that the MMR vaccine was dangerous).
The paper was so flawed that 10 authors and the publisher of the journal it appeared in have retracted the work. That's right -- the people who helped create and publish the paper now say that it's bullshit. But don't worry -- stuff like this has a way of hanging around forever -- just ask the people who are still insisting that fluoride is poison 70 years later.
For more cons whose nuts had their own orbits, check out The 6 Ballsiest Scientific Frauds (People Actually Fell For). Or learn about The 7 Ballsiest Pranks You Won't Believe Actually Worked.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Shockingly Simple Art Heists That Actually Worked.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how to con Swaim away from his horde of dwarf treasure he keeps in the Lonely Mountain.
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