Scams have been around for ages. Many of us have been the victims of one or more. Some grifts though have stood the test of time, and have become legendary.
ljuby_63 asked Reddit: What was history's biggest scam?
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
This is kinda like buying a star. A genius scam, but utterly pointless.
Piggyland . It's not the biggest scam but my favorite. In Toronto in the 40-50s, a guy (I can't remember his name) came up with a great investment idea . He would sell people piglets but also charge extra, upfront, for their food, care etc. He would take care of their pig on his farm and when it was full grown, the investor would sell it for a nice profit. He sold thousands of piglets! People would even bring their kids up to the farm on the weekends to visit and the parents would be happy to see their investments growing. They weren't allowed in the barn but he had a nice meeting room set up where they could play with their pig. Then one day the owner took off to Germany with millions of investors dollars and was never heard from again. It turns out he only had a dozen or so pigs in different sizes. When people came to visit, they all saw the same few pigs .
They grew up to be Trump supporters.
Scottish soldier Gregor MacGregor claimed he was made the leader of a country in Latin America which did not exist and then proceeded to earn himself a fortune by selling land and government bonds of said fictitious country to wealthy British and French investors. People got on ships and sailed there looking for land that didn't exist. There was a tribe that was like, "No, there's no colony here white folks." They actually had to be convinced that they had been lied to. Many died.
"A French court tried MacGregor and three others for fraud in 1826 after he attempted a variation on the scheme there, but convicted only one of his associates. Acquitted, MacGregor attempted lesser Poyais schemes in London over the next decade. In 1838, he moved to Venezuela, where he was welcomed back as a hero. He died in Caracas in 1845, aged 58, and was buried with full military honours in Caracas Cathedral."
Talk about fool's gold.
The Bre-X Mining Scandal.
A Canadian mining company claimed that they had found 200,000,000 troy ounces of gold (that would be worth 257 billion USD today) in Indonesia in 1993. At their height the company was valued on the NASDAQ stock market at 6.9 billion USD (adjusted to 2018 with inflation).
The geologist who reported the 200 million troy ounces of gold was shaving his wedding ring into the drill core samples and making it look like all of the cores had an incredible amount of gold in them.
Eventually in 1997, another big mining company that was looking to acquire Bre-X did some due diligence and found that not only did their drills not detect any gold, but that the gold flecks in Bre-X's drill samples were angled and sharp unlike flecks of gold that would be produced naturally. They concluded Bre-X were "salting" their samples.
Company got exposed as a fraud. The geologist who shaved his ring and made hundreds of millions off of selling stock reportedly "committed suicide" after he was found out. His reported method of suicide was jumping out of an Indonesian military helicopter and magically his hands, feet, and penis were surgically removed and the body was unrecognizable (yeah this guy definitely didn't pay off the Indonesian military to fake his own death). Lawsuits hit the company that went bankrupt almost overnight. The CEO fled to the Bahamas, had his house broken into by masked gunmen who threatened to shoot him unless he turned over the money he owed them. He apparently died of a "brain aneurysm" three weeks after the break-in.
There is a movie about it that came out in 2016 with Matthew McConaughey and now we have a lot more regulations and requirements for mining companies in Canada that want to be listed on stock exchanges and go public.
and now we have a lot more regulations and requirements for mining companies in Canada that want to be listed on stock exchanges and go public.
The good news is that this ultimately made Canada the world leader in mining / gold mining. You will see a ton of companies headquartered / listed in Canada because of the strength of regulation, even though they have no operations in Canada.
The OG email scammers.
The Spanish prisoner.
It started in the late 19th century as a scam where a con man would convince someone that he had a friend locked up in a Spanish prison, who knew the location of some buried treasure (or something similar). But to organise a jailbreak, bribe the guards, they needed some cash now, then they could all go share the treasure together.
Sound familiar? Because it's the ancestor of other forms of advanced fee fraud, otherwise known as Nigerian email scams, 419 scams, etc.
I stand in awe.
There was a scammer who sold the Eiffel Tower. Twice.
Victor Lustig. He was also an amazing counterfeiter, and he ran another infamous scam called the Rumanian Money Box (or something similar).
That last one is a favorite of mine. He'd show people a box with a crank, turn the crank, and a perfect $100 bill would pop out. He'd explain that the bill was an undetectable counterfeit, that the machine could make one such bill every 6 hours (turn the crank before then and you'd break the box), and he'd sell them the machine for like 5k-10k.
On at least two occasions someone bought the box, turned the crank early, and then found Lustig again and begged for help fixing it.
Dude also scammed Al Capone.
Basically from what I remember, Lustig claimed to Al Capone that he can easily obtain 100k$ if he had 50k investment, essentially doubling the money. Lustig said he only needs 45k$ more from Capone because he is already putting up 5k$ of his money. Al Capone knew that if Lustig scammed him he can easily kill him, so he gave him the 45k$ . A week later Lustig came back and told Capone that the deal fell apart, and he lost his investment. Al Capone was ready to kill him then and there, but Lustig gave him back his 45k$. Lustig said he only lost his investment, and Capones investment was secured. Capone felt bad for judging the man and gave him 5k$ that he "lost" as a gift. Little did he know that Lustig was after the 5k$ all along and the whole story was planned by Lustig from beginning.
This is what I remember from the story, the money amounts may differ etc.
Oh yeah, big time.
Scientology, which I'm actually glad to see not having already been mentioned here yet as that's an indicator of it fading into rightful obscurity.
Scientology is nuts. They literally have a paramilitary naval force. Wonder where the funding comes from!
The worst pies in Chicago.
Surprised no one has mentioned H.H. Holmes! Creator of the haunted house as we know it. He would offer you a hotel room while you visit the Chicago World's Fair and when you get to your room he gasses you and throws your body down a chute to his basement. Then he would burn the meat off your skeleton in his acid pit so he could sell your skeleton to the nearby college! Probably the biggest scam I know of!
Man, haunted houses have changed since I was a kid.
Those "athletic" silicon bracelets a couple years ago that said they "improved your balance" or whatever.
I remember a guy I went to school with who did a research project effectively exposing the bracelets as fraudulent, and was actually offered money by the bracelet company to not present his findings when it was selected for an inter-school science competition,
He made off with billions.
Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the largest Ponzi scheme in world history, and the largest financial fraud in U.S. history
he largest financial fraud in U.S. history
You mean, the largest known financial fraud in U.S. history.
And for you office-dwellers...
We use ink cartridges for the coupon printers at work. I realized that even when they say they're empty, you can shake it and hear the ink sloshing around inside.
I bring the "empty" ones home now and use the ink for art.
My dad usually buys the ink from China and refills the cartridges using a syringe. Our bathroom looks like a crime scene after he refills them.
There's no shortage of excellent horror fiction out there. Recently I read The Terror by Dan Simmons and can't remember the last time I felt that claustrophobic and nervous. But I am also a fan of quite a few classics. Are there any other horror books that capture grief as effectively as Stephen King's Pet Sematary? What other book evokes folk horror as beautifully as Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home? Let's not forget this wonderful classic: The Haunting of Hill House. I could rave about that one (and Shirley Jackson) for days. All of these books left their mark on me and yes, I'd include them on a list (if I were to make one) of some of the scariest books I've read.
People had their own opinions to share––and books to recommend––after Redditor Tylerisdumber asked the online community,
"What's the scariest book you've ever read?"
"Gerald's Game. I've read lots of Stephen King and this one scared me the most. Slept with the lights on for several nights."
Everything about this book is creepy. Don't even get me started on the... degloving. I'm sorry I even typed that word out.
"It's not a long story..."
"The Yellow Wallpaper.
It's not a long story and I'd highly recommend going in knowing little to nothing about it. It's brilliant and terrifying. Published in 1892 as well if that's any interest!"
Few stories make you feel this sad. A pretty stunning piece of work––and yes, unnerving. Can really get under your skin.
"I think it was mainly..."
"For some reason, Salem's Lot by Stephen King.
I think it was mainly because I was on a week-long hiking trip in the Australian bush and it got dark and scary at night. But damn, I had trouble sleeping for a couple of nights. Then the friend I was hiking with read it, and he couldn't sleep either."
This is probably my favorite early King––and for good reason. The sense of atmosphere is impeccable. Those characters are loveable and you genuinely care about what happens to them. Then the book veers from horror into tragedy. It's quite moving.
"Just the knowledge..."
"On The Beach.
It's the most soul-crushing book I've ever read, and there's really nothing scary in it.
Just the knowledge of impending death for everyone that feels so awfully heavy."
This is one of those books that makes you feel hopeless.
It's impeccably written but wow... it's a truly heavy read.
"You never knew..."
It's a classic. I found it to be immensely chilling. You never knew what would happen and the writing instilled a sort of dread. I read it in the dark before I went to bed until I finished it."
A book I can read and re-read over and over again. It's a beautiful horror novel. It's also a really fascinating window into the era and manages to say a lot about social and class mores.
"I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid. Very creepy and unnerving, definitely scared me reading it at night."
I wanted to really like this one––unfortunately, I did not––but there's no denying that the first third or so (especially once the two protagonists get to the house) is pretty unnerving. Shame the payoff wasn't all that.
"It was disturbing and horrifying..."
"Helter Skelter. It's about the Manson murders and goes into quite a bit of detail. It was disturbing and horrifying because, unlike the King novels also mentioned, it's true. What they did to Sharon Tate is so absolutely devastating. Pure evil."
This book is gruesome and not for the faint of heart. The level of detail we dive into learning about the Tate-LaBianca murders is remarkable and also rather nauseating.
"So the book's characters..."
"Bird Box by Josh Malerman.
Forget the Netflix movie. The book's monsters are terrifying, in that you simply just don't know what they are or what they look like. They could be anything. What they are is enough to drive people insane by just being looked at.
So, the book's characters have to navigate a world mostly without one of our most used senses, and what's more terrifying than something you can't see?
This leads to some utterly scary scenes in the book that sent my heart racing and I had to put down for a breather."
It's a shame that movie wasn't all that and a bag of potato chips.
"It's a different kind of scary..."
"It's a different kind of scary, but The Handmaid's Tale. Atwood's dystopian nation feels not that far from reality sometimes, and it absolutely terrifies me."
We're going to go there.
Yes, this book is terrifying.
"I feel like the movie..."
"The Ruins, by Scott Smith, messed me up pretty good. My favorite kind of horror is psychological, and while there is a physical "entity" the real horror is the helplessness of this stranded group trapped by something they don't understand. Their desperate struggle to hold on to their sanity and the slow descent into hopeless desperation just really hit hard.
I feel like the movie was a fairly faithful adaptation, although it's been a while since I've seen it."
I love this book and have read it multiple times over the years. It's slow-going... and then the final one-hundred pages are just horrifying.
Well, if you haven't read any of these... What are you waiting for? Get on that. You won't regret it.
But also... the world is pretty scary right now, so we understand if you need to take a step back.
Have some suggestions of your own? Feel free to tell us in the comments below!
Have you ever traveled to a city you've always heard good things about, only to be totally let down upon arrival?
When a friend insists we travel to certain cities because we would "just love it," they're setting the bar pretty high.
And a city can also boast a rich history or an attraction that makes us curious enough to find out what makes it so appealing.
But, alas, when we finally reach the destination, it's never exactly what we thought it would be.
Curious to hear from strangers online, Redditor tshirtguy2000 asked:
"What city is overrated?"
These are not officially real cities but they do have a rotating population.
It's Always A Party There
"As a former
slave associate at party city. I 100% agree."
"Lego City. There always has to be someone falling into the river."
"Cabot Cove, the murder capital of the world."
"Sure, the murders are all solved, but would you really want to live in a city with that much, easily solved, crime?"
Neighbor To Springfield
Shelbyville. Those f'kers steal trees from neighboring cities.
These were once considered destination cities but their popularity eventually took a nose dive.
"Atlantic City. Venture a few blocks off the boardwalk and it's incredibly depressing. Very clearly an area exploited by the big casinos while the locals have been driven to absolute poverty, while they still force a smile to work the shops that are required for the tourist traffic."
Lots Of Water
"Niagara Falls, Canada. I grew up there. Mayor pumps most of tax $ to casinos and tourism with flashy vegas-esque attractions."
"Myrtle Beach. I'm not even saying that it has a good reputation, I'm just saying that any shred of positive thinking about it makes it overrated."
Where A Creek Is An Exciting Attraction
"Lamb's Grove, Iowa. It's not the paradise on earth that people always say it is. Don't get me wrong, it's got great Chinese food but the motel 6 is meh at best."
Impressions for these cities fell far below expectation.
"Dubai. It's the clickbait of the world. 'We have the biggest/tallest/most expensive YOU WON'T BELIEVE when you see THIS...' It's hot as f*k, everything's a man-made tourist trap; labor exploitation and racism are rampant, and they try so hard to prove to the world how modern and Westernized they are. Really, it's just government propaganda."
"Miami. Horrible place filled with horrible people."
Truth be told, many cities can be overrated.
It just depends on a person's experience, or a resident's perspective about what it is about the location they live in that is nothing worth writing home about.
If I had to choose, I would say Las Vegas is overrated, but that's because there is nothing in Sin City that is of personal interest to me.
I may be severely judged for my opinion, but that is a gamble I'm willing to take.
The opposite sex can be a bit of a mystery sometimes. Our brains work differently just like our bodies and this can lead to certain sensitive questions. Guys tend to be a little less open but today it's time for the ladies to ask away. Even wondered what they really think or feel about their body, yours? Today's the day to get the answers you didn't know you needed.
Redditor William84000 asked:
“Women of reddit, what question do you have of men that you'd really like an answer to?"
His question started an informative thread for women to ask men the questions they've been wondering and receive honest, real-life answers.
“How long does it take to recover if you've been hit in the balls?” Snowy-avocado
“Anywhere from 5 minutes to literally turning to dust like we were Thanos snapped.” secondhand_organsdust whirls GIFGiphy
“The Big Dumb Object...”
“I've always wanted to know: why do you like loud machinery so much? For older men it's mowers, leaf blowers and such. For younger men, it's modified cars and motorbikes. What's the deal with the loud machines?” marshmellow_bunnyx
“Power and tools. Tools are a thing that gets stuff done, and they are loud because they contain the
natural essence power of violent explosions and fire. Most men like powerful things, instead of powerful people.”
“In sci-fi, this is called 'The Big Dumb Object', and is pretty much a trademark of sci fi books written by men” Connect-Zebra7173
To shave or not to shave?
“Does body hair on a woman bother you that much?" reillydean28
“Leg/arm hair? Don't even notice. Armpit hair? Not my thing but not my choice/decision. Pubic hair? I'd prefer not, but it's not going to stop me from getting the job done." wHUT_fun
It’s a power and control thing...
“Why send a d*ck pic?" stavinlawrence
“I think for most men it's a power dynamic thing. Either it gets them off or it just makes them feel in control."
“Then I assume there's the added bonus of if she likes it she might send a nude back. But these losers have a greater chance of buying a "get bigger penis pills" that actually work before a girl appreciates an unsolicited nude." InertialEclipse
"Do you notice the little things?”
“Do you notice the little things about women like a new hair cut, when they wear makeup or a nice outfit?” xforeverlove22
“I can't speak for everyone but for me, nope. Not at all. My uncle had a moustache for like 20 years and one day decided to shave it off. I didn't notice it. I noticed there was a weird atmosphere around me like ‘come on, say something’, so I small talked with him.”
“A few hours later after he left they asked me if I seriously didn't notice that his moustache was gone. My answer was ‘What moustache?‘ And makeup would definitly fly over my head.” PleaseTakeThisName
Lets just not touch people without permission...
“What things have women done that make you uncomfortable?" charloget
“Had a few grab my junk at random. Even had a couple that just forced a kiss on me. I don't usually experience women trying to pick me up, but the few times I did was never great. It was either negging, overly sexually aggressive and always in a group." bahamabanana
On today's episode of sink of float...
“Do penis' float like a buoy? I heard they do but have never been able to verify it.” TheFantasticV
“I mean it's buoyant but it can't really do much besides lazily sorta half float there. Still amused the f**k out of my wife to learn.” secondhand_organsGiphy
Everyone just wants to be loved...
“What makes you feel loved?” linedizzy
“A compliment, a hug or a kiss we don't have to initiate.” Nuitari8
“Do guys care if women get cosmetic procedures done?” dookieconductor
“I don't necessarily care about the work itself, I'd be more concerned about understanding why she felt like she wanted to get it done and help her feel body positive for whatever work has been done or if she feels like she needs work.” -notjosh-
Math will kill a mood everytime...
“What does it feel like when you're having sex and you're trying not to 'get there'? Is it frustrating? What do you do/think about to keep it from happening?" uhohoreolas
“I sometimes do math like 333*3... But often I am fine with just controlling things to focus mostly on her pleasure instead of mine. Tho sometimes she is excited and ends up moving in unaccounted ways while I am a hair away and there is no stopping it. I definitely don't find it frustrating. It is still very enjoyable." Fkire
Some of these Q&A's were unexpected but now we know! This important thing here though is knowing it's ok to ask questions sometimes.
Everyone's got their own favorite food.
What are two foods that actually taste great together......even though most people don't eat them that way?
Breakfast is the most wonderful meal of the day. As the wise Leslie Knope once said, "Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?" So mixing it up can feel blasphemous, but what if it's tasty?
Jam It On
"When I was growing up, it was standard procedure for us to put grape jelly on scrambled eggs. I did it when I went to college and everyone at the table stared at me. I still like it."
"That sounds gross af, but not too gross that I don't still want to try it. Haha"
Bringing People Together
"Peanut butter and maple syrup."
"My husband and I both grew up eating PB and syrup on our waffles. We took that as a sign it was meant to be."
"Peanut butter and syrup on waffles is one of the single best things I have ever had, also growing up with it"
Mustard?! Don't Let's Be Silly.
"Mustard with scrambled eggs. Actually I haven't had it in a while but from what I remember its really good"
"Mustard with eggs period"
Sauces and dips are critical to enjoying some foods. Mess with it too much and you risk ruining the delicacy. So that's why it's reassuring to see these people offering up their new spins on dip combinations.
Only For The Elegant Dining Experience
"Hummus and salsa mixed together with tortilla chips."
"Fancy bean dip."
Peanut Butter With Everything!
"Peanut butter and cheddar cheese (like the proper brick kind, not kraft cheese slices). When I was a kid I sometimes made myself pb and cheese sandwiches. They're very filling but delicious!"
"Toasted English muffin, butter, peanut butter, raspberry jam and marble cheddar on top. Lord have mercy on me."
"Add a litte hot sauce on the peanut butter."
Better Than Garlic Sauce?
"I already posted but I'm eating pizza with my friend right now and he likes his pizza with hummus."
"Hummus is good with so many things."
"So I make spaghetti noodles, but break up the raw noodles into smaller pieces. Once they're done I put in a an egg or two (mix it around) and let it cook. I swear it's not that bad. My Nonna always makes it for me when I go back to the Midwest to visit. It's good with parmesan cheese too."
And then there's these taste combinations. Mixtures so strange, you might just be willing to walk away from your phone or computer and try one now.
Sweet And Savory?
"Watermelon and feta cheese."
"With red onion and balsamic vinegar."
"Thats like the most basic summer thing in Greece, Balkans, Turkey together with some Uzo or Raki"
Who Lives In A Cheddar Under The Sea?
"Pineapple and cheddar."
"A guy at work introduced me to dipping a peanut butter and honey sandwich into chili. That was surprisingly great."
A Creative Spin On An Old Favorite
"Root beer float except with cherry Coke and chocolate ice cream. I was in middle school on a field trip, last in line at the cream shop, and ordered this after everyone else had done the standard root beer and vanilla. One of the cool girls who had never spoken my name before gave me this piercing look and asked if I would switch with her. I instinctively knew I would get zero benefit from this deal, so I said "Nope, ya gotta just remember it next time." That felt good."
Keep an open mind. Don't do this for every meal, sure, but always be ready to try something new.