5 Tragedies That Douches Took Advantage Of
Whenever a tragedy occurs, it's easy to fall into despair and anguish -- but as Mr. Rogers said, "Look for the helpers." And while Mr. Rogers was entirely correct, it's also important to remember that disasters don't just attract heroes and helpers. They also attract scammers and con-artists and people who only see a quick buck to be made.
A Chinese Millionaire Used Kobe Bryant's Death to Shill Cryptocurrency
Earlier this year, basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed when a private helicopter they were riding in crashed. The nation was stunned and within hours, tributes were pouring in, fictional peanuts were temporarily spared, and dads all over the country honored the athlete by tearfully whispering "Kobe!" whenever they dunked something into the garbage.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency merchant Justin Sun found his own way of dealing with Kobe's passing: By using it to promote his cryptocurrency, TRON, an alt-coin that's been called both a scam and a ponzi scheme. Sun and TRON posted a series of tweets describing Kobe as a "member of the TRON family" and announced that at his next conference, they'll be having a moment of silence for Kobe -- whose only relationship with Sun and TRON was speaking at the 2019 conference about his entrepreneurial journey.
But it had nothing to do with cryptocurrency at all. Hell it was probably the same business philosophy lecture he gave a hundred times a year, a fact that TRON was well aware of seeing as how they were forced to clarify that Kobe speaking at TRON CON (or whatever the bloody thing is called) wasn't an endorsement of cryptocurrencies by Kobe. Gee, we wonder what changed?
Fortunately, commenters soon stepped in to "remind" Sun of how using the death of a major celebrity to hawk his shitty make-believe money was a bad look, the best of which was a simple "Have you no shame?" And judging from the fact that Sun has a weird habit of advertising himself as being in partnerships with people who it later turns out, have no fucking idea who he is -- including Steve Wozniak, Liverpool FC, Baidu, and Warren Buffett -- we're going to venture a guess at the answer.
Coronavirus Has Retailers Around the World Price-Gouging Face Masks
At time of publication, Covid-19 has killed 35,000+ people, infected 740,000+ people, and set up shop in 199 countries. As the world grapples with a pandemic, people are figuring out what they can do to survive -- which unsurprisingly, has led to retailers jacking the prices up on face masks to proportions that'd be comical if quite so many people weren't dying.
In Hong Kong, pharmacies were caught selling face masks at a 30 percent markup over pre-virus pricing. On the popular Chinese e-commerce site Taobao, meanwhile, a box of twenty facemasks jumped in price from 178 yuan to 1,100 yuan ($158), while in Beijing, a pharmacy was fined 3 million yuan ($640,000) for upping the price of its face masks sixfold from 143 yuan to 850 yuan. In all, the Chinese consumer regulator has investigated over 30 instances of retailers price-gouging panicked citizens over face masks, but they're probably a little more overworked by the fact that as the pandemic wears on, they're now having to deal with retailers price-gouging consumers on vegetables like lettuce (which is now selling for 8x its usual price) and cabbage (5x).
It's not any better out of Asia, either. It's also been reported in the U.K., UAE, and USA, where price-gouging pharmacists have tenfold, tenfold, and treblefold (respectively) increased prices on face masks, while Amazon has now issued a warning to retailers to quit that bullshit on its platform. The only people who are allowed to use Amazon for evil are Amazon, dammit!
The kicker? According to the CDC, the best way of fighting Coronavirus lies in just washing your hands -- and as for the effectiveness of face masks, you're better off doing literally anything else because they flat-out don't really work.
The Store That Got Emmett Till Killed is Crumbling (And Its Owners Won't Sell for Anything Less Than $4 MILLION)
On August 21, 1955, 14 year-old Emmett Till visited Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market while on summer vacation with relatives in the town of Money, MS. During his visit, the store owner's wife, Carolyn Bryant, accused Till of grabbing her waist and making sexual advances at her. Till was later abducted, tortured, and murdered several days later by Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother. Then in September 1955, an all-white jury acquitted the pair of Till's murder -- and a year later, the two would confess in a magazine interview that they had killed Till.
Depressed? That was just the fucking PROLOGUE.
Today, there are fifty-one sites in the Mississippi Delta associated with Emmett Till -- including the riverside spot where Till's body was dumped. Despite being at the center of the crime, however, the market where it (read: nothing, because she made it up) happened is a dusty, derelict, overgrown ruin, but not for want of trying by the local community who'd very much like to turn it into a civil rights museum.
The owners of the building very much want this to happen, too -- just as long as they get four million dollars in return.
When locals first asked the building's owners to sell in 2006, they responded with an asking price of FORTY MILLION, but after being told (very politely) to go fuck themselves, they bartered themselves down to four million. That's against a government valuation of $20,00, by the way, because it turns out that when you let a building disintegrate into a vine-strangled, mold-covered disaster site that's haunted by a country's racist past, it knocks a few bucks off-of its market value.
If this was merely a case of someone trying to make a buck off of history, that'd be gross but not unsurprising. What elevates this story to obscene, however, is that the building is owned by the children of Ray Tribble, one of the twelve jurors who voted to acquit Till's killers in 1955. It's not even a case that they can't afford the upkeep on the building. In the 2000's, the Tribbles were awarded a grant to restore a building next to the marketplace, but while there are similar grants they could apply for to restore the marketplace, they aren't interested because, according to one local historian, they'd rather the building die than "be turned into a monument complicity of their patriarch in letting Till's killers walk free."
Of course, the family could always donate the property to the community and right their family's wrongs and provide "some measure of redemption" (in the words of Alvin Sykes, whose work forced the government to reopen Till's case in 2004). As it stands, though, Tribbles seem more than happy to just let it slowly turn to dust.
Over a Dozen People Faked Having Lived in Grenfell Tower in Order to Claim Compensation and Housing
On June 14, 2017, a tower housing block in London, Grenfell Tower, caught fire as a result of substandard building materials -- an inferno that killed 72 people and left hundreds of residents displaced. In the aftermath, the government started a scheme whereby people affected by the blaze could claim housing and compensation for the loss of all their worldly goods -- and in some cases, people.
I'm sure you can see where this is going.
This offer attracted a lot of unwelcome attention from scammers and thieves who proceeded to file dozens, if not hundreds of false claims for losses they "suffered." Over a dozen people have been charged in connection with defrauding survivors' charities of millions of pounds for costs including hotel rooms, transport, meals, and housing, punishments of which included fines and significant jail sentences.
"Wearside Jack" Used the Yorkshire Ripper Murders to Avenge a Minor Felony Arrest
Britain in the 1970's was a scary place to be: Black Sabbath, the IRA, OPEC, Margaret Thatcher, etc. Oh, and Peter Sutcliffe, aka The Yorkshire Ripper -- a serial killer who, between 1975 and 1980, killed 13 women (and attempted to kill several more). From the very start of spree, the police hunt for the Ripper was intense ... and deeply flawed. Such was the clumsiness of the investigation that Sutcliffe himself was interviewed by police NINE TIMES.
For the longest while, it seemed like the Ripper was a ghost. That is, until a major breakthrough happened in June 1979, when the Ripper contacted the police with a letter and a recorded message, for no other reason than to be a gigantic asshole.
Except, the idiot had forgotten to disguise his voice and soon enough, police had narrowed his dialect down to Wearside, an area of North-East England that police had only previously shown a minor interest in. The police buried Wearside in posters and leaflets containing samples of the Ripper's handwriting, as well as giving out a phone line where they could hear a sample of his message, all in the hopes that someone, anyone could identify him. But it wasn't to be. Soon enough, the police realized they'd been hoaxed and resumed their search 100 miles south of Wearside, in the industrial city of Sheffield -- where they found Sutcliffe driving around in a car with dodgy license plates, which between that and the fucking murder kit in his trunk, suggested that they'd finally gotten their man.
With the Ripper behind bars, the question begged: Who the fuck was "Wearside Jack," as he was now known. In 2006, we got our answer in the form of John Humble, an unemployed laborer who decided to exploit the investigation for his own needs. Fame? Money? His prison fetish? No, he wanted revenge against the police for having the audacity to arrest him for, um, punching a police officer. Imagine if your cokehead cousin decided to fuck with the BTK case because the cops impounded his shitty Camaro, and you're pretty much there.
Humble's shenanigans would've been fine if he was tampering with an investigation into, we don't know, apple scrumping or whatever weird low-key crimes happen in Britain, but thanks to his bizarre need for revenge, he distracted the police enough from Sutcliffe for long enough that Sutcliffe was able to kill three more women.