People Reveal The Biggest Scams In History
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.
The internet is so fascinating.
Thanks to YouTube and TikTok, so many hours can be spent lost in the world of video.
You pick a simple topic or name to check, and then it's tomorrow... and you've binged every army family reunion story.
And so much time to waste, depending on your keystroke choices.
Redditor imboredaa wanted to discuss all the ways so many of us get lost watching things on the internet, so they asked:
"What are some of the craziest/strangest rabbit holes you’ve ever been down?"
I constantly get lost on talent show audition rabbit holes.
And I am proud!
RestoredSerial Killer Chainsaw GIF by Rise RecordsGiphy
"YouTube videos of old chainsaw restorations. No idea why, but I guess that’s why it’s a rabbit hole. I don’t even own a chainsaw or have a need for one."
"I really enjoy going on a city’s Craigslist, then to 'rooms/shared' (or whatever it is for finding a room mate) and then typing words like 'warning' or 'beware' in the search to see what kind of horror show nightmare room mate scenarios people have decided to write about... it's usually some juicy headline like 'warning!!!'"
"Do NOT rent from this woman!!!! She is a PSYCHO!!….'"
"And after reading it, it’s always a guess to decide who is the actual crazy person, the landlord or tenant. Could be a bitter ex, tenant, or a scam, or whatever. But it’s an easy way to dive quick into some weird corners of the internet that are filled with drama."
After the Ice
"I spent a bunch of time about 12 years or so ago reading about all the details of the Titanic, how it sunk, what happened as it was sinking, who died, who survived. I got into the life stories of the people who died, and what became of the people who survived. And then I very nearly bought a piece of carpet from the Titanic."
"Andrée's Arctic balloon expedition"
"Dumb, then numb, a** thought he could fly a balloon to the North Pole. They had cyanide capsules and all, in case they crashed and were about to freeze to death. Or get eaten by a polar bear during a three month night. He and his assistants somehow managed to do both."
"Plot twist: Andree, the worst captain of all time, noticed the balloon was leaking the night before they were about to leave, pumped it up a bit, and said 'f**k it that'll do.' It did not do."
"An Uncle John's Bathroom Reader. Started with 1 and ended up with a 20+ collection."
"Uncle John's Bathroom Readers are so addictive."
Toilet time can be knowledge time.
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"Turning old planes into houses! About 10 years ago I found a company that would do it for you. The wings were decks and the plane was mounted to a pedestal that allowed it to be rotate with the sun!"
"Mega tsunamis. Thousand foot walls of water moving at hundreds of mph? It happens more than you would think. The Azore-Gibraltar fault will cause one one day. There evidence they happened a few times in the Pacific. It doesn't take a meteor to happen, it could be an underwater landslide (Doggerland), or a large section of a volcanic island shearing off and falling into the ocean (Oahu). Doggerland is another rabbit hole that is worth googling."
Hitting the Keys
"Mechanical keyboards. I wanted to buy one, so I started researching and watching videos of reviews. I went deeper and deeper, seeing special cables, obscure companies, the tons of switches, etc etc."
"I stopped when a Youtuber I watched made a video asking her viewers and discord users to stop bullying and harassing her for using some kind of switches or keycaps. I bought my keyboard and never went back to that crazy fandom."
In the Sky
"I worked in administration at an aviation academy for a few years and decided I’d start listening to aviation podcasts since I didn’t know much about it. I came across a plane crash podcast that talks about crashes in history and how it improved the safety of flying."
"I was fascinated by it, and found myself gradually needing to know more and listening to more of the same type of podcasts, watching videos, and listening to black box recordings. It was eerie but interesting at the time. Now, I regret it tremendously because since then I’ve developed horrible anxiety when flying."
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"Spent a lot of time in the 'quantum consciousness' rabbit hole. I had just deconstructed from religion and wanted answers about life, death, and reality. It was long before I made peace with not knowing. I spent around a year obsessed with quantum experiments, psychedelics, and the general philosophy of consciousness."
Lives (and chores) can be put on serious hold when you find a juicy enough topic to research!
Well, what rabbit holes have you gotten lost in? Let us know in the comments below.
People Describe The Most F**ked Up Thing They've Ever Seen That Still Haunts Them
CW: Graphic imagery and accidents.
No one leaves this life without scars.
We witness so many awful things on a daily basis.
How could we not be followed by it all?
Messed up things are just part of the deal of living I guess.
One minute you're walking along on a bright sunny day, then boom, you're a witness to a murder.
Or some such craziness.
That's why I stay home a lot.
Redditor Who_Did_You_Expect1 wanted to hear about the things from our memories that still haunt our nightmares, so they asked:
"What's the most f--ked up thing you saw that still haunts you to this day?"
Living through peril is unimaginable. I've been luckier than most.
TragicSad Best Friends GIF by Lisa VertudachesGiphy
"I watched cancer kill my baby brother. He was in grade school when I was in college. 25 years, and I still see it in my dreams."
Ay Dios mio, Dios mio!
"When I was about 8, my sister and I were walking with my mom to a bus stop to see my grandma in Mexico city. There was a lady on a bike crossing the intersection that we had just crossed ourselves but she didn't stop in time to the next one and didn't look both ways, she didn't have time to stop her bike. All I remember is the lady making the beginning of a scream as a white old muscle car ran over her (bike and all) at a high speed."
" remember the sound it made as it broke everywhere. My mother took her sweater off as she screamed and covered both my sister's and my head from looking, but it was too late. I remember looking at my sister with tears in her eyes, and I was too shocked to react or comprehend what I had just seen happened. A lot of people immediately surrounded the place, and the driver came out of his car and held his head with his hands after seeing the lady on the pavement."
"I didn't look at the lady anymore. I remember hearing people screaming in shock. My mother told my dad later as she cried. I remember hearing her wake up screaming for weeks after this saying: ay Dios mio, Dios mio! Still makes my heart race when I think about it."
"I was a news photographer for a while in the 90’s. I got called out to an accident. A high school girl ran into the back of a semi. As I was shooting, I noticed her wallet was on the ground. It had a plastic picture holder and the wind was flipping back and forth. I saw her prom pictures and shots of her with her family."
"I quit being a news photographer shortly after. I never forgot that day, and it still haunts me."
"I saw the aftermath rather than the actual event. A woman was walking home from the grocery store late at night. She crossed the road without using the crosswalks and got hit by an SUV. The two images cemented in my mind are of her, embedded in the windshield, and the driver of the car standing a little ways down the street vomiting. I've never seen someone look so utterly broken as the way the driver looked. I can't imagine what he was going through."
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"When I was 16 I was in a car wreck with my best friend since 3rd grade. I pulled him from the car with a broken shoulder while he was bloody, lifeless, limp. He died within the hour, not long after the ambulance got us. It’s been 18 years and I still think about it every single day."
I couldn't imagine living with that.
I also couldn't move...
"Coming to after getting hit by a vehicle as a pedestrian. Was face down, all I could see was blood soaked road and thought 'f**k, that doesn't look good.' I also couldn't move. The last thing I remember seeing before that was the grill of the vehicle. I still get jumpy when I catch a vehicles grill out of the corner of my eye and I'm not expecting it to be there."
"I'd seen a lot of accidents prior to that, but something about it being my own blood hit different."
"And yes, I had the right of way and was crossing in the proper place, at the proper time. Driver plain a** wasn't paying attention. It was daylight to boot, so no reason they couldn't see me."
"I was volunteering with my k9 working with NYC emergency services and chief Patell during 911 WTC attacks. We were in the middle of where the twin towers used to stand The thick gray dust, horrible smell of burnt things and dead people was all around but when the dogs started to find bodies and body parts it really freaked me out and I will forever live with this reality that seems like a bad dream."
MissingConfused Wile E Coyote GIF by Looney TunesGiphy
"A family of four that had burned in a plane crash. I used to do a woodland search and rescue, and we saw a lot of wild crap, but I still have dreams about what I saw when we went to look for a missing plane."
Goodness life is dark sometimes.
Do you have any similar experiences? Let us know in the comments below.
People Break Down Obvious Signs To Tell If You Have Sexual Tension With Someone
Let's just be honest: the dating scene can be rough, especially when you're not sure if that person likes you back or not.
Some people, however, are very comfortable with their dating histories and believe there's a certain "cheat code" to confirming if someone is interested.
But for those of us who have always been bad at flirting and consider ourselves "oblivious" to other people's advances and compliments, maybe there could be some hope for us after all with these tips.
Redditor Independent_Slide932 asked:
"What are signs that there's sexual tension between you and someone?"
Their Undivided Attention
"It's serious eye contact for me, like when they would rather admire you than look anywhere else. It just makes it so obvious."
"For me, it's not just the eye contact itself, but when the eye contact is made, the two of you are in your own little world. There’s communication happening in that eye contact that you aren’t having with other people."
The Thrill of the 'Chase'
"To answer the actual question OP asked, it’s finding reasons for eye contact."
"It’s 'accidentally' making physical contact. It’s always ending up sitting next to each other in a group."
"It’s a tingly tight feeling in your guts."
"It’s a beautiful pain to experience. It’s almost more fun than actually 'getting' the other person."
Literal Physical Attraction
"Angling. Always feeling like your center of gravity is shifting towards them."
Interested or Not?
"There's a regular who comes into my work who makes serious serious 'seductive' eye contact with me and has a smile that looks flirty."
"But he's also hot as f**k. He's just incredibly attractive. So like, just because it's making me turn to jelly doesn't mean it's anything other than just being friendly and having a regular smile to him."
It is, Indeed, ...Tense
"It's that awkward, 'I want to f**k this person, and I'm pretty sure this person wants to f**k me, but I'm not sure enough about it to actually make a move.'"
"That's sexual tension."
"It can manifest in a lot of ways. Usually, sexual tension develops when two people are attracted to somewhat attracted to each other. The funny part is, sometimes they aren't even fully conscious of it, or want to acknowledge it."
"That is where the tension lies. There is a reason why both are not participating in healthily acknowledging attraction for each other. It can look like tense awkwardness, constant fighting, overt flirtatiousness without any progression, and even consciously ignoring/avoiding the other person."
"It's a shared gaze that at once leaves you both relaxed and on edge. It's like being old friends with a stranger."
"It's like an inside joke that isn't funny, it's sexy. I mean, it could be funny or sexy, but you see what I mean, it's a common understanding."
"It's like, 'You've got a secret, and I know it, and I've got a secret, and you know it, and the secret is the same thing, and we both know it, and it's so f**king delicious that we both know that without discussing it. The secret is nothing and everything, it's the knowing and sharing and the edging that is wonderful."
"It is something that is involuntary, but also once you've experienced it (enough), you can put yourself in that mode, make eye contact with a sexy stranger, and they may respond positively. It won't be as good as spontaneous mutual attraction, but you can put the signals out, 'Hey, I dig you, are you interested?'"
"Some people that you have that intense mutual attraction for aren't the right one(s) for you, except that they are the right ones to practice making that connection with. The person who is perfect for you might be someone who grows into the right emotional responses... and that's true of you, for them, as well."
"And lastly, you can choose to ignore both the mutual and asserted versions; the right relationship choices are both an emotional and intellectual decision, don't rely on one exclusively."
A List of Obvious Signals
"Reading signals is tough, I’m glad I don’t have to date these days."
"But some legit signals I’ve learned, in no particular order:"
"Prolonged or suggestive eye contact."
"Body positioning mirrors yours or stands closer than typical in your culture."
"Playing with hair when you interact."
"Light unconscious brushing up against or touching."
"If seated, leaning forward towards you frequently and/or touching you hand in a friendly way."
"Flushed or light blushing when they interact with you but not others."
"Excessive awkwardness that isn’t the case with them around other people. Especially if they straight up start babbling like a loon."
"Awkward silences you could cut with a knife but they still keep seeking you out."
When Someone Gets It Wrong
"It’s hard to explain. Basically, it’s a nervous, delicious breathless feeling when they are close to you. You both go out of your way to stand just a little bit closer to each other."
"The sad thing is, some people think they 'feel' this with someone just because the other person is being friendly and misread signals. I once had a guy insist that we had sexual tension simply because I twisted my hair."
"He told me that twisting my hair was a 'mating signal.'"
"I told him that I had been twisting my hair has been a nervous habit of mine since I was a toddler, but of course, he wanted to believe I was interested and insisted that I must secretly want him."
Obvious to Other People First
"When other people pick up on it."
Responding to Looks
"When they suddenly look and hold eye contact and then look away. (Low)"
"When they look and notice you're looking then they run their hand through their hair. (Medium)"
"When they notice you looking and suddenly gently bite their lip looking away. (High)"
"When they notice you’re looking and do something to draw attention to their body either stretch and reveal skin or adjust an intimate part of their clothing. (Extreme)"
"Each of the above will make you get butterflies as you know that she knows AND that she knows that you know."
Trying to Keep the Conversation Going
"When there's a lull in the conversation, and eye contact is maintained while you both are trying to figure out what to say next."
Looking But Not Looking
"Catching glances, by either party. The kind where they’re looking at you and don’t think you’ll look up or at them. Then suddenly the ceiling is really interesting to them when you make eye contact."
The Classic Note Trick
"When they hand you a piece of paper that says:"
"'Do you think that there is sexual tension between us?'"
"'[ ] Yes or [ ] No'"
While we'd all love for the dating scene and general flirting to be straight-forward, simple, and stress-free, this thread serves as a reminder that it comes easily for some while being a puzzle for others.
At the end of the day, if you're interested in someone, the easiest thing to do, though it's terrifying, might be to ask them.
Anyone with any amount of dating experience knows at least a few things that they love in a relationship and a few things they find unsavory.
Just like discovering our boundaries and what qualifies as a relationship deal breaker, most of us generally have a few rules that we tend to live by in every relationship, whether it's romantic, platonic, or professional.
Curious to learn some rules to live by, Redditor aytmamatov_musa asked:
"What relationship rule have you memorized forever?"
Actions Speak Louder than Words
"I can't remember the exact wording, but something to the effect of: Pay more attention to how invested your partner is in the relationship, not how much they say they are."
Know Who Holds the Power
"I remember when I first realized that the person who has the most control in a relationship (especially ending it) is the person that cares about the relationship the least."
"When I thought of all the relationships that I had been in (not just sexual) and how one person decided sometimes months ahead of time that the relationship was over, I remember how oblivious the other person was when it ended."
"By the way, this can also be applied to employment relationships as well."
Don't Fight for Someone's Attention
"If someone does not want to hear you, there is no way you can phrase anything to make them listen."
"This applies to all types of relationships, but I learned it from trying so hard to have a healthy relationship with my mother. Then when I left at 25, she responded by filing a missing person's report, hiring a PI (Personal Investigator), harassing my friends, and hacking my email and bank accounts to monitor my activity."
"This also ties into: abusers see you taking away their ability to abuse you, as an egregious theft of their rightful property."
Be a United Front
"Problems aren’t You vs Me. They’re Us vs The Problem."
No Codependent Relationships Here
"You cannot help someone who does not want to be helped."
Be Honest About Your Feelings
"Listen to how you describe your partner to friends, or how you think at the moment how you're describing your partner to them. That will tell you a lot about how you feel about them."
"If you're nervous about introducing them, listen to why. If you're apologizing for their actions, pausing to reframe positive ways to speak about them, or ignoring the red flags, then listen to that instinct. If you're constantly talking about the problems or hiding them, pay attention to why."
"I remember being in one relationship and having those feelings of, 'Should I introduce her to the family, when I talk to others about her, I'm exhausted from some argument, etc.'"
"I remember another relationship, thinking, 'Oh, I would love her to meet the family, she'd get along with everyone's kids, my friends would love her, I just had this great moment with her, and I wanted to tell people about it, I enjoy talking about her.'"
"When you experience that difference (and you have the wisdom and experience to know you're not being deluded by things like abuse or newness or getting caught up in a big fire that's going to burn out fast), it tells you so much."
Be Mindful of Reciprocation
"Something a friend of mine once told me was, 'Always ask yourself if this relationship isn't taking more from you than it is giving you.'"
"It saved me a lot of heartbreak."
"If they don’t respect your boundaries while dating, they won’t respect them in marriage."
Cheaters Gonna Cheat
"My best mate got with a woman who cheated on her then-boyfriend to be with him. Then my mate and she stayed together for four years, but she ended up cheating on him with another guy that she is now dating."
"I warned him in the beginning and advised him not to get into a relationship with her to start with. If she can do it with one guy, she can do it with another."
"His argument was that her then-boyfriend was not good enough for her which was why she is cheating on him. But what he failed to realize was that no one is the best in the world, and if she decides that he isn’t good enough for her in the future, then she will cheat on him too. And that is exactly what happened."
Acknowledge Red Flags
"Red flags look like normal flags when wearing rose-colored glasses."
Common Interests Aren't Everything
"Having a lot in common doesn’t equal a good relationship. It’s just a decent starting foundation."
Don't Go to Bedroom Angry - Or Do?
"I wouldn't say forever, yet, but since becoming a wife, I have learned that it's okay to sleep off a fight. Don't have to 'resolve' everything right then and there. Give each other space to let steam off and talk in the morning."
Be Loved for Who You Are
"Do not change your personality if you don't want to... I didn't realize until the breakup, that my ex did not like me, just the idea of what I could be..."
Know the Difference
"When an argument comes out of nowhere, ask 'Are you yelling at me, or to me?'"
"It's helped with a lot of arguments. Sometimes we just need a backboard to scream at, and nine out of ten times, that backboard is your significant other."
"A lot of arguments get bad just because they don't know you are releasing anger, which is healthy in the right way."
Some of these seem pretty simple, but they can make a huge impact in a relationship, if not also to the trajectory and health of a person's life. By understanding our own worth and how it's valued by others, we gave give ourselves a much happier ever after than we might have otherwise settled for.