5 Mistakes That Went Unnoticed For An Absurd Amount of Time

People whose job it is to notice things overlook terrible stuff all the time.
5 Mistakes That Went Unnoticed For An Absurd Amount of Time

Have you ever felt the deep shame that comes with discovering a mistake way, way too late? Like when you look in the mirror and see a big stain on your chin from a chili dog you ate three weeks ago? Well, don't feel too bad. People whose job it is to notice things overlook worse shit than that all the time. Like how ...

Authorities Will Walk Right Past Dead Bodies For Days, Weeks, Or Even Years

The public pool is essentially a communal toilet that children will splash in your face, but there are definite limits as to what should be allowed to go in that giant bacterial margarita. One 2011 Sunday, Marie Joseph went to a public pool in Fall River, Massachusetts. After she went down the water slide, the nine-year-old neighbor she was chaperoning told lifeguards that he never saw her come up again. And those super responsible lifeguards hopped right on top of doing both jack and shit about it.

It was Tuesday evening when someone finally found Joseph's body in the pool, which had been open all day Monday and Tuesday, with six lifeguards serving during that time. Health inspectors also came to check out the pool on both Monday and Tuesday to assess the water quality. No one saw her body. She was only discovered Tuesday evening when some teenagers hopped the fence and saw her floating.

And this isn't the only instance of city employees grossly dropping the ball when it comes to errant corpses. In December 2017, a man was shot in his van in Tennessee. Likely this was inconvenient for him, and police were kind enough to show up and ensure he got to the hospital. His van was impounded, because, you know, the guy who owned it was shot.

Seven weeks later, the man got out of the hospital and went to pick up his vehicle. And that's when he discovered a dead dude in the back. A dude who had been shot at the same time as the driver and died, still in the back of the van, where he'd been completely ignored by everyone.

It's possible this is part of the human tendency to want to keep the status quo. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," as they say. And if it is broke, as long as the bills are paid, then just crack a window and it won't matter. Like the case of Pia Farrenkopf, whose body was discovered mummified in the backseat of her own car six goddamned years after she died. The car was parked in her own garage.

Farrenkopf had the misfortune to be one of those people who doesn't like dealing with other people's bullshit, so those around her could go years at a time without hearing from her. All of her bills were paid automatically, and she routinely refused to collect her mail, so the mail carrier was used to taking it back to the post office. She traveled extensively for work, so no neighbors thought anything of not seeing her around. But she'd resigned from her job, so no one at work would notice she was missing either. Hell, her neighbors even used to cut her lawn as a favor just so it'd stay tidy. Everything in her life effectively worked to create the perfect reason for no one to notice she'd died. It was only when her money ran out and the bank foreclosed on her house that someone finally found out. No one ever determined how she died, either. My theory? She didn't give a shit so hard that it killed her.

Lawmakers Accidentally Made Prostitution Legal In Rhode Island ... For Decades

I strongly believe that sex work is a perfectly acceptable way to make a living, and it's a shitty state of affairs that people treat sex workers like they're less than people. Selling your body for sex is no different than a laborer selling their body to lift boxes, a personal trainer selling theirs to get you fit, or a stunt person selling theirs to make the drama on Riverdale look extra convincing. Sex work shouldn't be illegal. And it wasn't in Rhode Island for about 30 years, but few people noticed.

Back in the late 1970s, there were multiple pushes to lessen the punishment for prostitution. One lawsuit sought to decriminalize prostitution on constitutional grounds, while at the same time the state government was reducing street prostitution to a misdemeanor, mainly to speed up prosecution. Well, in the course of rewriting the law, they accidentally deleted the part that actually said prostitution was a crime, only leaving in a reference to "street solicitation" being a misdemeanor. Which meant that every other type of paid sex work was legal by omission.

It wasn't until 1998 -- nearly 20 years later -- that some lawyer noticed this and used the loophole to help get off some clients on a pornography charge. The full scope of the loophole was exploited in 2003, when employees of a massage parlor used it to escape prosecution, owing to the fact that all their rubbing and tugging was happening under a roof and nothing in the law said it was forbidden. That case was 27 years after the accidental change.

It wasn't until 2009 that they would finally make sex work illegal again (despite the accidental legalization having multiple positive effects), thus ending 31 years of perfectly legal handjobs and tossed salads at reasonable rates.

Important, Very Public Typos Went Unnoticed For Years

Sunrise Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas changed its named to Sunrise-McMillan in 2003. They made up a sign and everything, and it stayed plastered to the wall of the school until 2012, when someone noticed that it said "Sunrise McMillian." There was an extra "i" in there. A relative of Mary McMillan, the school's first teacher, noticed the incorrect sign and pointed it out nine years after it went up, forcing the school to change damn near everything they had ever printed, including letterheads and the principal's own name badge. And for an added kick in the pants, I noticed while researching this that it's still misspelled all over the internet six years later. Nice Sherlocking, me.

Still, that's nothing compared to the mistake that went unnoticed by The New York Times, which has been failing upward for some years now, if certain politicians are to be believed. But they did fail pretty egregiously at one thing, and that was numbering issues. They managed to mess that up for literally a century.

Way back in 1898, The Times was already up past 14,000 issues. On February 7th, 1898, the paper was supposed to be publishing its 14,500th edition. Whoever was in charge of typing that up must have had an extra Irish coffee that morning, though, because they went from 14,499 to 15,000. And because no one on Earth has ever read the edition number on a newspaper, no one noticed they'd leapt issues 500 into the future.

And they kept on not noticing it until 1999, when a news assistant in charge of numbering created a spreadsheet to track the days the paper had been published and discovered that the dates and edition numbers didn't add up. The Times corrected it for the January 1, 2000 edition, which fixed the error and changed the world in no way for anyone at all.

The Royal Mail Didn't Notice A Guy Was Making -- And Using -- His Own Postage Stamps For Years

Sometimes a scam will go unnoticed purely because it never occurred to the government that anyone would be crazy enough to try it. Like if, say, someone meticulously hand-painted their own postage stamps instead of paying 40 cents or whatever for the real thing. But Angus McDonagh, for reasons the world will likely never fully understand, did precisely that.

In fact, McDonagh spent a few years making his own stamps and using them to mail shit all around the world, as one does. And his stamps looked like real postage stamps, with one very notable exception: His portrait was on every single one. I mean he actually painted his own damned face on them. And the Royal Mail just delivered them, right along with the rest of the mail people had actually paid for.

Calling himself the Anarchist Philatelist, which is the least anarchist thing ever, McDonagh designed hundreds of intricate stamps to send letters to everyone and anyone he could think of. At Christmas, he made stamps of himself as Santa Claus, and another commemorating the made-up holiday of Upside Down Day. All were printed on his home printer and affixed to letters with glue, because some anarchists are a little more low-key than others.

Why make fake stamps? To protest both the rise in email and what McDonagh felt was a decline in stamp design quality. But these super noble and not at all insane efforts didn't really work, because no one noticed for years. Of all the letters he sent, only one ever bounced back.

Apparently it's not anyone's job to check? Could we have just been plastering random stickers on our mail this whole time? McDonagh never got caught. He was forced to out himself, in the most lackluster "It was ME ALL ALONG!" reveal in the history of time and/or stamps.

A Bank Didn't Notice Nearly $2 Billion Being Stolen ... Over The Course Of Six Years

You can imagine how working at a bank would be a constant source of temptation for a criminally minded individual who wanted to maybe have all the money ever and do very little to earn it. I'd probably try that if I thought I could get away with it. And if anyone trusted me with money. But they don't. So I haven't. But I'll tell you who did!

A fella by the name of Gokulnath Shetty worked with a wealthy jeweler in India to scam the Punjab National Bank out of nearly $1.8 billion over the course of six years. Have you ever managed to do anything for six years straight, let along something illegal? I hear rumors that some people have jobs and relationships that last for that long, but I also have seen people claim to "own" the houses they live in, so who knows what kind of fanciful bullshit is worthy of belief these days.

Anyway, how do you scam a fortune for years without anyone cluing in? Turns out this particular branch was run much the same way Danny DeVito runs anything in a Tim Burton movie: kind of crooked, and likely with no oversight.

You need to use something called a SWIFT code to transfer money internationally. It's a system set up through banks the world over. Shetty was the one at his bank both initiating and approving messages on the SWIFT system, telling other banks to issue loans to his accomplices and assuring those banks that everything was kosher. He then proceeded to not record any of the transactions, so no one could follow up on what he'd done.

And because this bank normally only recorded this information on paper, there was nothing to even audit when anyone did go looking. The entire bank's system was working on the foolproof "If you're going to rob us, please make a record of it so we know that you robbed us" system, and Shetty was apparently the first to ever break that trust. Also, please note that these banks have so much cash laying around that nobody noticed the pile was $2 billion smaller than it should be. So there's that.

Amazing how none of this could have been fixed with a magic eraser.

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For more, check out 5 Huge Mistakes Nobody Noticed For A Shockingly Long Time and 8 Massive Disasters In Marketing No One Noticed.

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