A Man Was Arrested For Pedophilia Because Of A Typo
Nigel Lang was a happy husband, parent, and drug recovery worker who had helped countless teens deal with addiction and sexual exploitation. All in all, a rather damn decent kind of fellow. Which is why it was such a shock when police barged through his door to arrest him for owning and sharing child pornography. Lang denied the charges right away, but who's going to take the word of a pedophile?
After searching his house and seizing his laptop, the cops released Lang on bail under the condition he stay at this mother's house until the investigation was finished. He was also not allowed to see his family without supervision, as according to police, he posed a risk to his two-year-old child (social services even told Lang's wife they'd take the kid away if they deemed she had not sufficiently protected their child from him).
But then, as quickly as they appeared, the charges were dropped. The police couldn't find a single bit of evidence on Lang's laptop. Of course, the damage had already been done. The Lang family had been traumatized and smeared, and Lang himself was so emotionally scarred that he quit his job, fearing that a single troubled teen with a chip on their shoulder could get him a one-way ticket to a prison hospital ward.
A year later, Lang's lawyers finally got the truth out. All of this happened because someone from the Hertfordshire Police Department had mistakenly added an extra digit to the IP address of a suspected child molester in the area, and that new string of numbers led to Lang's doorstep. Lang sued the police, and after "six years of fighting," he received about $80,000 in compensation and a letter of apology. Seems about right for a destroyed life.
Related: The 5 Most Disastrous Typos In Human History
A Single Joke Cost A Company A Billion Dollars
On April 23, 1991, Gerald Ratner, CEO of British jewelry giant Ratner's, was set to give a speech at the prestigious Institute of Directors conference. Ratner figured he'd spice things up with a bit of comedy.
Ratner opened his speech by quipping, "People say, 'How can you sell this for such a low price?' I say, 'Because it is total crap.'" And when the stuffy crowd laughed so hard that they nearly shattered their monocles, Ratner decided to follow up with a real zinger: "We even sell a pair of gold earrings for under 1 pound, which is cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks & Spencer. But I have to say that the sandwich will probably last longer than the earrings." It was comedy gold ... which was all the wealth he would have left after people got wind of this speech.
The media immediately jumped on the prawn sandwich joke, and when shareholders figured that nobody would want to buy a luxury product that was just officially labeled cheap by the CEO himself, Ratner's shares plummeted, wiping out 500 million pounds (nearly a billion dollars) of the company's value.
The prawn joke ruined Ratner's life. His name was taken off the label, and he was kicked out of the company a year later. After several failed business ventures, Ratner now makes a living as an online retailer and motivational speaker. Hopefully, he leaves the comedy to the professionals.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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