Versace's Murder, Pirate Radio, And A Secret Conspiracy To Fake The Fake Passports Of The World's Most Famous Fictional Country
During World War II, the British built a bunch of sea forts in the middle of the English Channel, to both ward off a Nazi invasion and test exactly how bored a soldier can get before he tries to marry a pelican. Flash-forward to the 1960s, when the old-fashioned BBC held a monopoly on UK radio, playing nothing but patriotic humming and polite discussions about the weather. Pirate radio stations quickly sprang up in the old forts, which were the perfect spot to beam rockin' tunes to the mainland. The forts became hot property, with the stations fighting armed battles to control the most lucrative spots.
The Bates family originally controlled a fort called Knock John, before conquering Roughs Tower from a competing pirate radio station with a combination of backstabbing and Molotov cocktails. After the fort opened fire on a British Navy ship, everyone got hauled into court, but it turned out that Roughs Tower was slightly outside UK territorial waters, meaning the court had no jurisdiction. This prompted Roy Bates to rechristen the tower "The Principality of Sealand," a supposedly independent country ruled by "Prince Roy" himself. The unrecognized new monarch quickly became known for wacky stunts, like issuing his own knighthoods and diplomatic titles.
Richard Lazenby/Wikimedia CommonsWell, it's nicer than Ocean City, Maryland.
In 1997, serial killer Andrew Cunanan shot himself on a Miami houseboat. Cunanan, notorious for murdering Gianni Versace, had a Sealand passport, while the owner of the houseboat proclaimed himself a Sealand citizen with diplomatic immunity. The investigation revealed that Sealand passports and bank documents had been used in a vast web of financial scams all over the world, taking in millions of dollars. So did police storm the fort? No, because Sealand had nothing to do with it -- the passports were forgeries. That's right, forgers produced painstaking forgeries of fake passports from a fake country.
The forgers worked for a fake Sealand government, based in Spain and led by Francisco Trujillo Ruiz, who claimed to have been appointed by Prince Roy. Trujillo Ruiz sold fake Sealand passports and bank certificates all over the world. He was particularly successful in Hong Kong, where locals, nervous about the impending Chinese takeover, bought over 4,000 Sealand passports for at least $1,000 each. But his main business was selling to fraudsters, who used "Sealand" documents to defraud unsuspecting businesses from Morocco to Australia. He was also using Sealand documents to run guns from the Russian Mafia to Sudan. While only Trujillo Ruiz was convicted, strong ties exist between him and Alexander Achenbach, a German guy who staged an armed invasion of Sealand in the '70s, kidnapping Roy Bates's son before Prince Roy himself rappelled down from a helicopter wielding a sawn-off shotgun and retook the fort.
The CIA, Howard Hughes, The King Of Jordan's Secret Son, Human Pituitary Gland Injections, And The Barbell Killing That Shocked Hollywood
Susan Cabot was a 1950s B-movie actress known for starring in low-budget Roger Corman flicks like The Wasp Woman, in which she transforms into a giant murder bee, and Sorority Girl, in which she sadly doesn't. In the 1980s, her mental health deteriorated and she became a recluse, living in a decaying Encino estate surrounded by rotting food and stacks of ancient newspapers, all guarded by gigantic, near-feral Akita. She shared this Grey Gardens-style squalor with her son Timothy, a martial arts enthusiast who claimed to have been left with severe mood swings by an experimental treatment for his dwarfism. The pair survived on regular support checks from King Hussein of Jordan, who had been introduced to Cabot by the CIA in 1959.