7 'Whaaat' Crimes You Won't Believe Are True
The old adage goes that crime doesn't pay, but it conveniently ignores who benefits from certain crimes. When criminals come up with obsessively harebrained, needlessly complicated schemes that usually get foiled anyway, well, we get paid money to write about it, and you get paid in laughter. Let's dive in!
The IRA Made A Gerry Adams Lookalike Switch Places Him In Prison
In addition to all the bombing they're known for, the Irish Republican Army would dabble in kidnapping. In the 1970s, leader Gerry Adams was arrested by the British. Pretty standard in the ongoing Troubles. Then the IRA found a guy in Belfast who looked exactly like Adams and decided to smuggle him into Northern Ireland's most impregnable jail, ominously called The Maze. There they'd make a swap and get their hero back.
Not thinking entirely stupidly, they did inform the real Adams about the plot. In preparation, he transformed his neatly groomed visage into shaggy hair and an unkempt beard. Other prisoners helped him out by constructing a similar-looking fake beard that they'd slap on the double upon the switch. There's something of a lack of creative crafting opportunities in prison.
Why would they need a fake beard if Adams was very real-bearded? Well, that's where it gets complicated. The plan was for Adams to secretly shave on the morning of the escape and then walk into a meeting room wearing the fake beard. He and the doppelganger would then switch beards and clothes, and Adams would walk out disguised as a lawyer. The plan went south because Gerry Adams' "Gerry Adams" disguise wasn't convincing enough.
While entering the meeting room, a guard noticed that Adams had a fake beard hooked over his ears. Sensing that this wasn't a sudden attack of alopecia, he raised the alarm, and the real Adams was nabbed in the parking lot. It must have been an awkward day on the yard when Adams surely confronted his fellow inmates with a sarcastic, "Sure, Gerry, we can totally make a realistic fake beard, Gerry," and possibly for the first time, a bunch of hardened felons had to feel bad about their thread skills.
A Secret Society Staged A Bloody Campaign To Force Brazil To Pretend Japan Didn't Lose World War II
If you were a Japanese-Brazilian, 1946 was a hell of a year. The Allies had surrendered unconditionally after a secret Japanese super-bomb wiped out 100,000 American soldiers in an instant, General MacArthur was on trial for war crimes, and Japanese troops were marching unopposed from San Francisco to Washington. Brazil had surrendered too, and a prince was on his way to take control of the government.
At least 16 Japanese-Brazilians were murdered by secret assassination squads for suggesting that this was anything other than fact. Over 30 others were injured, while numerous farms and businesses were torched. And that's just the stuff that was reported to the police; the real numbers are believed to be much higher.
These attacks were carried out by Shindo Renmei, a secret organization formed by Brazilian-Japanese nationalists who refused to admit that Japan had lost the Second World War. They published newspapers that spun a completely delusional narrative of victory about "a furious battle in Okinawan waters the Japanese Navy and Air Force destroyed about 400 Allied warships." Japan even got its own secret weapon in this fantastical retelling: the "High Frequency Bomb," which had wiped out U.S. troops on Okinawa. They circulated photographs supposedly showing President Truman bowing to the emperor.
This wasn't just some tiny group of weirdos. Shindo Renmei had at least 50,000 members, enough to relieve local stores of their whole stocks of red and white cloth for Japanese flags, intended to welcome Brazil's new Japanese overlords. The group was so powerful that the Brazilian government, following a disastrous meeting with its leaders, actually backed down and ordered the press not to publish any mention of Japan's unconditional surrender. So if a member of the community suggested that Japan might have possibly not conquered the world, they got an unfriendly visit from Shindo Renmei.
The killings tailed off after 1947, but the belief that Japan had won remained influential until 1950, when Olympic gold medalist swimmer Masanori Yusa made a high-profile visit to Brazil. When he was greeted by cheering crowds, he publicly expressed astonishment at the idea, humiliating Shindo Renmei. By 1955, the group could only muster 100 people for a demonstration calling for their repatriation to a victorious Japanese Empire. Presumably they had become impatient waiting for that slowpoke prince to arrive.
A Guy Killed His Business Partner, Then Spent Six Months Impersonating Him
Most of your upper tier of annoying friends on social media and at dinner parties love to throw around the idea that technology is making us dumber, less connected, whatever. Fine. They can go live in a cave while the rest of us play Untitled Goose Game. But that disconnect has tragically resulted in the opportunity to do a digital Weekend At Bernie's.
Chris Smith was a talented guy who moved to California and built a successful advertising business, but he had always dreamed of dropping out of the rat race and travelling the world. In 2010, he reached a deal to sell his half of the company to his partner for a cool $1 million. So his family and friends weren't surprised when they received an email from Chris saying he was using the money to achieve his dream.
For the next six months, they regularly chatted with Chris through email. He sent updates on his incredible travels -- sandboarding in the Sahara, sailing in Tahiti, hunting for diamonds in the Congo -- with pictures of interesting sights and his new girlfriend, a Playboy Playmate. Weirdly, he wasn't in any of the pictures, but there was no reason to suspect anything was off just yet. Over time, however, the emails started to mention suicidal thoughts and drug use, neither of which Chris had ever previously struggled with. When the emails suddenly stopped coming, the family went to the cops, fearing the worst, or at least a possible freak boogie-boarding accident.
Instead the cops told them there was no record of ]Smith ever leaving the country. Remember the business partner? When Chris arrived to sign the deal, the guy apparently butchered him in their office and stole his half of the company. He then accessed Chris' email account and spent fully six months pretending to be him. The whole time his family thought they were talking to Chris, they were actually emailing with his murderer. Lesson learned: If a loved one starts claiming he's boinking a Bunny, he's delusional or dead. Either way, look into that, probably.
A Public School Cafeteria Chef Impressed Everyone As A Tyrannical Genius While Robbing The Place Blind
It's one thing to admire guys like the Soup Nazi, but it's difficult to actually be the Soup Nazi when you rely on making and serving food for a living. Well, Bruce Gluck thought he was on that same level, except that he wasn't running some fancy restaurant -- just public school cafeterias in New Canaan, Connecticut. Like something out of Michelle Obama's most pleasant dreams, Gluck refused to serve traditional slop. Instead he dished up seasonal, farm-to-table dishes: roast duck with quinoa tabbouleh, buffalo and ostrich filets, hand-whipped cream on every dessert. How very Connecticut of him.
Behind the scenes, Gluck similarly played the part. People signed up for a shitty cafeteria job and suddenly found themselves working for Gordon Ramsay's crueler and less hot brother. But parents and the school board were always willing to defend him. Surely a few line cooks being publicly executed for dropping a quail egg was a small price to pay for flax seed pizza. It turns out, however, that they were paying a much bigger price.
After employees finally sued over the regular aubergine beatings, Gluck was forced to step down, and shortly afterward, an audit revealed that almost $500,000 had gone missing from the cafeterias over the previous five years. Two employees claimed that Gluck had demanded they each hand over $100 per day from the tills, and his bank accounts showed a series of otherwise inexplicable cash deposits during the school term only. He was also allegedly caught on camera loading school food supplies into his truck for the catering business he ran on the side.
Actual losses may have been higher than the auditors detected, since many parents complained that their kids were sometimes double-charged for food, only to be told the kids were probably just buying for friends and lying about it. Can you imagine getting grounded because your parents insisted on hiring a klepto Pierre White to hand-make your lunch sushi?
A Canadian Car Dealer Committed Massive Fraud To Fund Curling's Super Team
As a sport where you aggressively clean ice, curling might be the most Canadian thing in the world. Sadly, it's never really caught on in countries where people don't have to hide on ice to avoid being taken by the Wendigo. That's why, back in the '90s, a Canadian businessman and curling super-fan named Merv Bodnarchuk was determined to get America to fall in love with the sport. He paid some of Canada's best curlers top dollar to play on his "super team," which he named the Anaheim Earthquake, even though A) there was no curling rink in Anaheim, and B) nobody on the team had ever set foot in the United States. At the time, most curling events had a prize fund of "whatever's in the lost-and-found box," so Merv's cash was a huge shock. There was just one catch: Merv insisted on playing himself.
It's weird enough that the lead spot on the best curling team ever assembled had to be reserved for a middle-aged businessman who cost them game after game thanks to his fatal flaw of *checks notes* not being a professional athlete. (Yeah, we said it, curlers are athletes.) The real twist came after the Earthquake somehow managed to qualify for the end-of-season championships and Merv achieved his dream of curling on national TV. It was discovered that Merv had financed his dream team by defrauding investors in his car rental business. His teammates had noticed some troubling signs for a while, like how people kept coming to games and screaming that Merv owed them money. He was punched in the face before one game, and another time, a curler came outside to find his boss being beaten in the parking lot by a man demanding the $50,000 he was owed.
Bodnarchuk was arrested in 1999 and charged with multiple counts of theft and securities fraud. The Earthquake did not play a second season. Curling lives on, and Americans continue to pay attention to it about once every four years.
A Man Was Driven To Madness By A Powerful Meteor
On Thanksgiving Day 2002, a spectacular meteor illuminated the sky above Montrose, Colorado. Naturally, residents turned out to comb the hills above the small town for any chunks of rock that made it to the ground, which can be very valuable. The most determined was a beloved and quiet retiree named Steve Curry, who became increasingly obsessed with meteorites. He became a self-taught expert, and even gave lectures. He also started finding hundreds of the rocks. In fact, according to Curry, Montrose was sitting on top of a giant deposit of ultra-rare meteorites. Virtually every rock in his yard was a meteorite, and if some of them contained the wrong mixture of metals, they were just a new type of meteorite. If some actually contained fossils, well, that was just proof of life in space.
The people of Montrose were initially supportive, because nobody likes to immediately shut down the guy suggesting the pebbles in their garden might be worth a fortune. A local news channel even did a report on Curry's breakthroughs. In reality, he probably never found a single real meteorite while gleefully scooping up armfuls of random gravel. Actual dealers filed police complaints to stop him selling his "meteorites," and also got him kicked off eBay, where he had common and worthless rocks listed for millions of dollars. Only the diamond industry is allowed to pull that kind of scam.
As people tried to come between him and his beloved "meteorites," Curry became increasingly unhinged, challenging real experts to "duels" wherein they would simultaneously point X-ray spectrometer guns at one of his meteorites and then submit the results to a jury of their peers. When this failed to get results, Curry became threatening, prompting prominent meteorite dealers to start carrying actual guns in case he tried for a more historically accurate "duel."
Finding himself under police investigation, Curry held a meeting in Montrose, seeking volunteers for a "grand jury" to seize control of the county and place unjust local officials under arrest for treason. He was eventually arrested following an armed standoff which turned into a lengthy wrestling match with multiple cops. What a fall from
The Confederacy's Submarine Inventor Blew Himself Up In A Psychic's Death Ray Scam, Then Reappeared To Defraud British Spies
The H.L. Hunley was the first submarine to sink a ship. It was also a nightmarish deathtrap that killed everyone who ever sailed in it, but you can't have everything. The mobile suicide booth was designed for the Confederate States of America by James McClintock, a grifter who had previously tried to hawk them obviously fake plans for a machine that pumped out 1.2 million rifle bullets per week. McClintock survived the war, largely by being sensible enough to stay well away from his own submarine, and found himself at a sort of crossroads. At the crossroads was his next brilliant idea: a death ray.
The weapon itself was actually the brainchild of one J.C. Wingard, a prominent spirit medium who claimed to have invented a "Nameless Force" capable of obliterating enemy warships from up to five miles away. The psychic hired McClintock to demonstrate his suspiciously untitled discovery, which he presumably stole from the ghost of Isaac Newton. Wingard's other henchman was George Holgate, a notorious freelance bomb-maker for 19th-century terrorists. You can see where this is going.
The trio demonstrated the death ray in New Orleans in 1876, when Wingard fired the device at an old schooner moored two miles away. It promptly blew sky-high. Unfortunately, a gang of newspaper boys who were hanging around an abandoned amusement park spotted a wire running to the ship. They contacted the authorities, who determined that the ship had been rigged to blow by McClintock and Holgate. Foiled by the newsies, the trio skedaddled to Boston, where they planned a second demonstration. Shortly before the test, however, McClintock was rowing toward the hulk with a 35-pound torpedo mine (guess why!) when it blew. Only splinters were left of him. Holgate and Wingard promptly fled town.
But there's another twist. Ten years later, a man claiming to be James McClintock walked into the British embassy in New York, claiming that New York's famous Irish Republican "Dynamite School" had hired him to build miniature torpedoes to sink British ships. The British promptly hired him as a double agent, but McClintock turned out to be scamming both the British and Irish. After some British spies sent his sample torpedoes to the lab in London and found them completely fake, the dude skipped town. So did McClintock survive, or was it Holgate impersonating his dead friend? Nobody knows, since everyone who investigates gets mysteriously blown up by an unexplained death ray.
For more, check out 9 Murders To Keep You Up At Night With My Favorite Murder - The Cracked Podcast:
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