Thanks to movies like Ocean's Eleven and Catch Me if You Can, we expect scams to be elaborate, highly coordinated events that require months of planning and at least three tuxedo changes. In the real world, both criminals and their victims are a whole lot dumber than you'd expect, which is why the following scams (almost) worked.
#5. An Elderly Couple Win a Vacation (and Become Drug Mules)
A 64-year-old Australian woman recently entered an online contest for a seven-day vacation to Canada. A few days later, she found out that not only had she not fever dreamed that time she entered a contest to go to Canada, but she had actually won. The trip included round-trip airfare for two, seven nights at a hotel, a new set of luggage (weird, right?), and some extra cash. Score!
The woman said she and her husband had a lovely time on their vacation, but there were a few times she had a nagging suspicion that something wasn't right. These feelings only grew when their luggage was swapped for the flight home. It turns out that spanking new luggage had been crammed to the gills with about 15 pounds of meth.
Unfortunately, "Heisenbergian levels of meth" didn't happen to be in the fine print.
Upon arriving back home to their Australian airport, they alerted the authorities that their luggage felt "heavy" and something didn't quite seem right. The Australian Federal Police found approximately $6.5 million worth of meth hidden in the linings of the suitcases and arrested the Canadian man that the couple were supposed to meet at the airport. The police uncovered an ongoing scam that targeted elderly Australian people, which is both sad and weirdly specific.
#4. People (Maybe) Threw Up to Steal from Walmart
There are few things worse than encountering a stranger's vomit. Poop, maybe. But vomit is up there on the list of body fluids you don't want to bump into.
Not having many other intellectual resources or talents at their disposal, some crooks in Michigan decided to use the "everybody hates vomit" pearl of wisdom to their advantage. They would buy a video game from Walmart, take out the actual game and replace it with a blank disc, then reseal the box to make it look completely unopened. And then they would blow chunks on the receipt.
Or at least that's what they told Walmart return associates, who were so disgusted that they would just try to get the barfy transaction over with as quickly as possible without asking any questions.
Michigan State Police
Keep in mind that they work at Walmart, so their tolerance for coping with awful shit is pretty high.
And it worked. A male scammer did this at two separate stores, raking in almost $600, while a female barfer did it at another location. The team of chowder chuckers is still at large and has not been caught, probably because even the cops don't want to have anything to do with them.
#3. A Man Steals at Least $700 Worth of Groceries by Ringing Them Up as "Loose Onions"
Englishman Nicholas Long was already having a tough time financially when he found out his girlfriend was pregnant, so he came up with a plan. He shopped at the grocery store and used the self-checkout lane, ringing up every single item as "loose onions."
Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
Which makes this the only time in recorded history the "unscanned item in baggage area" warning was actually true.
He played out his scam a total of 20 times, but one day a security guard at the store saw what he was doing, perhaps tipped off by the fact that the store didn't even carry loose onions. Long immediately confessed to all of his crimes and was sentenced to pay almost $400, meaning he did actually save quite a bit on groceries, making those 180 hours of community service he has to perform almost worth it.
#2. A Woman Pays $1,500 for Actual Apples Instead of iPhones
A woman from Brisbane, Australia, was looking to score a deal on new Apple iPhones, so she placed an ad online. She received a call a short time later from a prospective seller claiming that she had two of the Apple phones in question. They met at a McDonald's (because nothing bad ever happens there), where she happily exchanged $1,500 Australian for two "new" boxes supposedly containing the iPhones. This extremely trusting woman drove all the way home before she opened the boxes to inspect the new beauties, upon which she found two apples, but not the kind that are constructed in a factory in China.
"Fuck this! Not even Honeycrisp?!"
She had been duped hard in a crime so evil, it would befit a Batman villain of the Adam West variety. The woman reported the crime to the police, but all they can do is warn people to be more careful in these online situations. (The fate of the apples is unclear as of press date.)
#1. A Guy Who Claims to Be Nick Cannon's Assistant Gets a Jewelry Store to Deliver Jewels
Imagine that you are working at Fred Segal, an upscale LA fancy-store that is as dedicated to providing clothes to Hollywood starlets as it is to not updating its goofy-ass signage.
Robert Mora/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"You should see our pubes."
Now imagine that, while working at Fred Segal, you get a call from a man claiming to be Nick Cannon's assistant, and this man requests that you bring thousands of dollars' worth of jewels to a hotel. You probably think this sale is going to bring in buttloads of commission, not to mention the awesome publicity from Nick Cannon and Mariah "I was in goddamn Glitter" Carey wearing the jewelry from your store.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"Remember when I hung out with O.D.B. and a clown mannequin? That shit was hilarious."
With this kind of a sale, you'll probably get a promotion! Hell, they may even make you the owner of the store. "Fuck that," the employee was probably thinking. "They'll make me CEO!"
This exact scenario happened to some poor schmuck who eagerly loaded up the car with the jewelry and drove to the hotel where "Nick Cannon" was staying, as requested. A security guard claiming to work for Cannon met the worker and took the jewels, saying that he would be right back with the money. This didn't bring up any red flags, so the worker waited for who knows how long before realizing that the "guard" was never coming back, at which point he probably shit his pants and cried simultaneously. The scammers had of course completely disappeared, leaving Fred Segal out a large amount of money, which they will not even disclose out of embarrassment.
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