The Art of Deception: 45 Instances When Fake Things Tricked the Masses 2

26FBI's Anti-Goth Cult Investigation

FBI's Anti-Goth Cult Investigation

The FBI spent years investigating an anti-goth cult known as the "Church of the Hammer" and their Yahoo group "GodHatesGoths," only to discover that the entire thing was entirely fabricated and intended as a joke. The official investigation continued for over two years before the FBI realized it was all fake.

27. The majority of so-called "Medieval Torture Devices" were in fact fabrications made in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries by hoaxers, showmen, and con artists. These devices were intended to captivate audiences with their gruesome and imaginative designs, despite their lack of historical authenticity.

28. In 2022, a Spokane fraudster orchestrated a car accident insurance fraud scheme involving multiple conspirators. He would stage fake car crashes by intentionally ramming the vehicles himself, causing injuries to selected individuals. Some participants even carried bottles of urine to pour over themselves for added authenticity.

29. Schwarzenegger feigned interest in the movie "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot" to deceive Stallone into starring in it. Stallone later referred to the film as "maybe one of the worst films in the entire solar system, including alien productions we've never seen."

30. In 2005, Banksy pranked the British Museum by surreptitiously installing a fake "cave painting" depicting a caveman pushing a grocery cart in one of their galleries without permission. The forgery went unnoticed for three days.

31Portuguese Castle's Display

Portuguese Castle's Display

During a prolonged siege in the late 1300s, a Portuguese castle shattered the resolve of its besiegers by staging a fake display of abundance. They threw freshly baked bread made from the last remaining flour in the castle, accompanied by a message: "If you need any more, just let us know." Fearing an extended siege, the Spaniards withdrew.

32. Mamoru Samuragochi is a deaf Japanese composer who was once hailed as the "digital-age Beethoven" and is known for creating the soundtrack for Onimusha. He was later exposed for having all of his works from the past 18 years written by a ghostwriter. Furthermore, it was revealed that he wasn't deaf at all.

33. Ashley Madison, a popular dating site for married individuals seeking extramarital affairs, had such a significant number of fake female accounts that an employee responsible for creating these fictitious profiles sued the company for "repetitive stress injury" in 2012. The case was settled out of court.

34. In 1999, Mike Leach, the offensive coach for the Oklahoma Sooners, planted a fake offensive script for the opposing Texas Longhorns coaching staff to discover. As a result, the underdog Sooners quickly gained a 17-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the game.

35. In 2015, Turkish counterfeiters were apprehended for producing fake popsicle sticks. Allegedly, they would exchange the sticks for free ice cream and then sell the ice cream at a reduced price. Their illicit operation lasted for three years before being exposed when a local ice cream company noticed an influx of sticks exceeding their production.

36Empress's Diamond Ornament Swap

Empress's Diamond Ornament Swap

In 1998, a burglar stole a priceless diamond ornament that originally belonged to Empress Elisabeth of Austria, replacing it with a replica from a gift shop. To conceal the theft, newspapers falsely reported that the item had been swiftly recovered, allowing the fake ornament to remain on display for ten years.

37. In 2013, a man in Virginia who had child pornography on his computer turned himself in to the police after receiving a fake FBI ransomware message accusing him of possessing child pornography.

38. In 2011, an Indiana woman created a fake Facebook profile of a teenage girl and sent a friend request to her husband. She used transcripts of their conversations to have him arrested. However, he was ultimately released, and all charges were dropped when he presented a notarized affidavit, proving that he had known all along that it was his wife behind the fake profile.

39. The fourth funnel on the Titanic was purely decorative. It was designed to give the illusion of a larger ship and was not connected to the ship's charcoal ovens. However, it was connected to the first-class smoking room, serving as an oversized kitchen hood of sorts.

40. Hans van Meegeren, a master forger, gained notoriety during World War II for selling his fake art to Nazis. After the war, when his paintings were believed to be genuine, he faced charges as a collaborator. In a remarkable turn of events, to prove his innocence, he painted a new forgery during his trial. His demonstration successfully vindicated him.

41Nigerian Scammer's Fake Airport

Nigerian Scammer's Fake Airport

Emmanuel Nwude, a Nigerian scammer, successfully orchestrated a fraudulent scheme between 1995 and 1998 in which he sold a fake airport to a Brazilian bank for $242 million.

42. Walt Disney created multiple fake companies, including M.T. Lott Real Estate, in order to discreetly purchase land in Florida during the 1960s. This allowed him to acquire the area that would later become Disney World while avoiding suspicion and keeping land prices low. The names of these original companies are displayed on the shop windows along Main Street in Disney World.

43. During World War I, after a horse ran into No Man's Land and was shot, French soldiers decided to replace it with a fake papier-mâché horse. Concealed inside was a sniper equipped with a telephone wire to relay messages about enemy movements back to the trenches. The ruse was discovered after three days.

44. The US government carried out a secret military operation called Project Eldest Son during the Vietnam War. The operation involved deliberately leaving behind thousands of rounds of faulty ammunition that would backfire in Vietcong AK rifles. Simultaneously, fake documents were leaked to question the quality control of Chinese munitions factories.

45. Best Buy once had a deceptive internal website that mirrored its actual internet site but with inflated prices. This allowed the company to engage in price-gouging tactics when dealing with in-store customers.