#3. Faking a Pregnancy and Selling the "Baby"
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The ability to bear children is one of fate's wild cards. Some people who shouldn't be trusted with a Tamagotchi are the human equivalent of the Fertile Crescent, while others who seem like they'd be perfectly capable parents are stuck with the baby-making capabilities of irradiated mutants.
Don't let the protective posture fool you; she's almost the Toxic Avenger.
As a result of the unequal distribution of human spawn points, some childless folks fork over huge sums of money to adopt offspring. Looking to get rich off of baby-crazy types in Oklahoma City, Serena Carol Mathews and Scott Thomas Smith decided to sell their baby without going through all the hassle of actually having one. The couple scammed potential adoptive parents out of nearly $37,000, getting them to pay for everything from toiletries to the water bill. Checks were written to Mathews' "landlord," who was actually Smith. Reports that he wore a false mustache and called himself Mr. Lord could not be confirmed.
"Who should you make it out to? How about 'Mr. Cash.'"
Obviously they could only stuff a pillow up Mathews' shirt for so long before people got suspicious, which is where a pregnant friend came in. In a true display of friendship, their pal gave them urine to fake pregnancy tests. The couple also doctored ultrasound images and assumed fake identities, because nobody would suspect that Sarah Notascammer wasn't on the level.
"Here's your new daughter! You should know, she's REALLY lazy."
What they weren't able to fake was an actual birth. When no baby emerged after nine months, people started to suspect that the whole deal wasn't quite kosher. Investigators eventually determined that the pair were part of a larger fake adoption ring that defrauded over 20 couples in several states, and also that Mathews and Smith were terrible at long-term planning. They got 27 months in prison and had to pay restitution, which seems like a lot to go through considering that they could have just had a damn baby and still turned a profit.
#2. Killing Off Fake People and Collecting Insurance Money
Like most people, Jean Crump really wanted more money. Unlike most people, she had the moral compass of Gordon Gecko crossed with a Disney villain. Being a resourceful mortician, she decided to give herself a sizable insurance-company-subsidized raise, because we all know that the insurance industry is famous for giving money away willy-nilly.
"It looks worse than it is. Here's 40 bucks."
Crump, who at 69 should have already retired to spend her days annoying waitresses at IHOP, took out insurance policies on people who were either fake or already six feet under. Tragically, these people soon "died," and Crump and her accomplices billed insurance companies for funeral and burial costs. They managed to make about $315,000 before the companies began to wonder if she was the Angel of Death.
"I came for the money; I stayed for the clothes."
When investigators started sniffing around, Crump and Co. tried to cover up their shenanigans with all the batshit ingenuity of people who thought this scam made any sense in the first place. Lacking actual bodies, they dug up the casket of supposed dead man Jim Davis and filled it with a mannequin and cow parts. (Worst Garfield comic ever.) They wanted to make the casket weigh enough to quell the suspicions of crematory employees -- why this required dead cow bits instead of literally anything else is unknowable. After Davis was cremated, he was then "buried at sea," which we assume is a polite way of saying that Crump flushed cow ash down the toilet.
And yet she still paid for a bagpiper to play "Amazing Grace."
Crump would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for a meddling doctor and would-be accomplice who was acting as an informant for the FBI. Crump was sentenced to a year and a half in the clink, although we'd like to think she tried to fake her own death to get out of it.
#1. Selling Your Name (or Your Newborn's)
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Shakespeare once asked, "What's in a name?" Centuries later, Terri Ilagan decided that the answer was a marketing opportunity worth $15,199.
"A rose by any other name would still not smell as sweet as 15 large."
In 2005, Golden Palace Casino paid the 33-year-old Tennessean to change her name to GoldenPalace.com after she put her moniker up for auction on eBay. "I was driving one day and I told my husband, I don't think anyone's tried to sell their name on eBay yet," she said. "So I put it up for auction and I got all kind of responses within 24 hours of it being listed." Note the lack of a pause to consider that there might be a good reason nobody had tried that.
Because your entire life starts to sound like your spam folder?
Most people would be wary of sharing a naming convention with the society from Idiocracy, but the mother of five says she sold her name to help support her family. There was no word on what selling her dignity, the respect of her friends and loved ones, and the chance of ever being taken seriously by society again netted her. Her children now call her Goldie, because that way they can pretend their mom is named after Goldie Hawn instead of a website for people who think the fun of gambling comes from sitting alone in a dark computer room.
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"This is fun, but is there somewhere I can turn out the lights and weep quietly into my Mountain Dew?"
Now, turning yourself into a living advertisement is one thing, but subjecting a poor, helpless baby to a corporate branding is a whole different ballgame. Just a few months after Mrs. DotCom's stunt, the same casino paid a couple $15,000 to name their son "GoldenPalace.com Silverman." Golden Palace's CEO congratulated the proud new parents/terrible human beings, saying, "We wish them and their beautiful baby boy all the best." "Because, oh man, he's going to need it. That poor kid's going to get the shit bullied out of him. You better hope that 15 grand is enough to cover his counseling bills, suckers," was implied. It's an even greater shame when you realize that Cracked.com Silverman sounds way better.
Related Reading: Oh yes, fund-raising gets worse than this. The name 9/11 Dove shoot ought to be proof enough of that. And did you know some schools have started selling ad space on their buses? If all this talk of terrible causes has your wallet lubed up, why not help Cobra commander raise $94 billion?
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