"Soon I'll be wealthy... so can I borrow lots of money right now?"

Mark Bishop's job for the last ten years 
was conning other gay men.

Con artists can be straight or gay, but imagine when homosexuality was illegal and victims had no legal recourse to expose a con man like Mr. Bishop.

He said he was an architect who would soon inherit money but right now he didn't have any funds available. He looked and acted the part, and I'm sure he wasn't going after poor men. He met his prospects by strolling down by the beach or by using a dating web site. (I wonder if it the site could narrow down potential dates by "annual income"?)

He had many aliases, too: Tobias Osbourne, Jamie Hopegood, Toby Hughes, Jack Cadogan, Max Lane... he hadn't used his real name for years. And he used a similar method in all his cons. Said authorities, who were contacted by multiple victims:
“His general theme was to attach himself to a series of men, deceive them as to his prospects and status, sometimes using assumed names, and tell them tales of hardship and bereavement to help him relieve them of significant sums of money.

“He would move on from one to another and practice very similar deceptions.”
He came across as a charmer, said one victim. And like many con artists throughout history, he started small:
 “I thought nothing of it when he asked me for £25 for a phone bill – and then another £25 because he needed to switch networks. It didn’t seem like much money and I never thought it would be a problem getting it back.

“Then he told me he was in the process of breaking up from his partner and needed somewhere to stay. So we stayed for about three weeks in a hotel, firstly in Burford and then in Cirencester. I ended up having to foot the entire bill because he said he was still sorting his finances out with his former partner.

“The whole thing was done on the basis that he was vulnerable.”

Eventually when the man told Bishop he was running out of cash, Bishop disappeared.

“When the money didn’t appear back in my account like he said it would, I knew something was wrong so I took his photo to the police,” he said. “They recognised him instantly and told me Tobias Osbourne wasn’t even his real name.

“I couldn’t believe it. Part of me didn’t want to believe it. You never think something like that will happen to you.

“I felt so gullible for having fallen for all his stories but he was very clever. I’m glad his actions have finally caught up with him. I don’t feel any sympathy for him but I don’t think prison will change him.

“The whole experience has left me scarred. I am far less trusting a person than when I first came across Tobias Osbourne.

“But I am sure there are lots of other people out there who, like me, feel stupid for having fallen for it. My advice to them would be to come out and contact police if this has happened to you.”
In ten years, it's estimated that the 37-year-old Mr. Bishop stole over £300,000 (about $467,000.) He was found guilty and sentenced to over four years in jail.

After he was arrested he said that he was relieved because he had told so many lies, he didn't know who he was anymore.

- Gaydar conman jailed after stealing £300,000 in ten-year trail of fraud, Metro UK>>

Juvenile name prank fools city council

Here, in the 1982 teen comedy Porky's, a waitress
who has been calling the name over the loudspeaker
is milliseconds away from getting the joke.

Councilman Dennis Zine is deceived when he asks for a speaker to speak at the Los Angeles City Council meeting. Mr. Hunt did not appear.

Is there a Mr. Mike Hunt here?

If you don't get it at first, you might want to ask Mike's friends Seymour Butts and Ivana Humpalot.

Did Someone Punk City Council With the Ol' "Mike Hunt" Trick?

The lung transplant scam

My relative needed a new lung
and all I got was this lousy... 
hey, I never even got a lousy t-shirt!

A guy in Oregon told his great-uncle that he was very sick and needed a lung transplant. His great-uncle gave him money to help out. However, the man's bank became concerned because, within four months, the generous relative had written $60,000 in checks. Police were contacted and talked to the man, who said no, really, come on, I had that transplant. I went to New York City and had that lung transplanting thing done there. After police checked with the hospital, they arrested 27-year-old Nicholas Scholten, who spent all the money and never needed nor had a transplant.

I don't know what he spent the money on, but it would make a great ending to the story if he spent it all on cigarettes.

Nicholas Scholten

- Elaborate scam nets $60,000 from man - Salem resident believed that his relative was ill, Statesman Journal>>
- Sherwood man accused in $60k lung transplant scam, Fox12>>
- Lung t-shirt from Redbubble>>

A tack on the chair prank postcard

A victim is "stuck again" by the old tack 
on the chair prank. (Click to enlarge.)

I wonder if "stuck again" used to have another meaning, besides the obvious one of being "stuck again" by sitting on a tack. Maybe it's related to this bad joke I found in a paper from 1905, humorously explaining the origin of slang terms:
"Stuck again," cried the fly, alighting on the sticky paper.
- I found the vintage postcard at Art Unique Gambar>>
- The joke is from Our Paper, Volume 21 by Massachusetts Reformatory (Concord, Mass.)>>

Want a new video face?

A method for hiding our faces 
behind a software mask 
of another person's face.

These videos show real-time face substitution demonstrations. Arturo Castro and Kyle McDonald used software to track a moving human face which is matched to a photograph and then superimposed and blended over the video.

Arturo Castro's Faces

Faces from arturo castro on Vimeo.

Kyle McDonald's Face Substitution

Face Substitution from Kyle McDonald on Vimeo.

Deceptively large pancakes

These ain't no International House of Pancakes pancakes.

These pancakes with butter pats are actually three-foot-wide pillows with a digital print pancake pattern,. They were designed by Bryan McCarthy and Todd von Bastiaans.

It's an expensive breakfast - one pancake will cost you $600. But if you buy 3 or more you get them for $540 each, and they'll toss in a butter pat for free.

Hipster lounging on stack of pancake 
pillows pretends to look at vinyl record covers.

Pancake Floor Pillows by Todd von Bastiaans, Unica Home>>

A real doctor-minister sold a fake cancer cure

Dr. Christine Daniel, who is both a doctor 
and an evangelical minister, 
appeared on a religious TV program 
hawking her herbal cure.

Hawking unproven medicines has a long history of fraud.

Many of the doctors selling these medicines are complete fakes, with "Doctor" being a bogus title used to impress, and not referring to any sort of actual medical knowledge.

There's also a long history of "affinity fraud," where the con artist - as a trusted authority figure in a group they have affinity with, thus the name - cons members of their own group, which makes it easier, of course, because the group trusts them.

This type of fraud is found in many religious groups, where people tend to be more trusting and look for the good in everyone.

Dr. Christine Daniel was both a doctor - and yes, she was a real doctor - and an evangelical minister. She went on television claiming her medicines would help people. In fact, she claimed her herbal treatments could completely cure Stage 4 terminal cancers.

About 55 desperate people believed her. And her cure wasn't cheap. She charged her patients over $4,000 for a week's worth of medicine. They spent a total of a million dollars.

Nobody was cured.

When authorities analyzed the herbal mix she mixed up and prescribed, they discovered nothing that would have worked against cancer. The most interesting ingredients were sunscreen preservative and beef extract.

Dr. Daniels also told her patients to say their treatments were donations, which allowed her to not report over a million dollars in income.

I believe she - just maybe - might have betrayed both her medical oath, which says to do no harm, and her religion's golden rule, which says to treat others as you would like to be treated. You know, that "Do unto others" thing.

She was found guilty of multiple charges of fraud.

- Doctor convicted in fake cancer treatments - Christine Daniel faces 150 years in federal prison and $5.5 million in fines for selling phony cures for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's, preying mostly on evangelical Christians. LA Times>>
- Valley woman convicted of cheating the hopeless, Contra Costa Times>>
- L.A. doctor-minister faces prison time, KABC-TV Los Angeles>>

How con man Dapper Pete was caught

"I spent three days in the Field Museum, 
eyeing the exhibits..." 

This short story narrated by a con man starts slow, but since it's a short story, it's only 1,200 words or so, and it ends with a nice subtle twist where the con artist explains how he was caught.

The writer, Ben Hecht, was a prolific author and screenwriter who wrote or contributed to the early films Scarface, The Front Page, Wuthering Heights, Spellbound, Notorious, Monkey Business, Gone With the Wind, and Casino Royale.

Dapper Pete and the Sucker Play is from the book A Thousand And One Afternoons in Chicago, published in 1922.

Dapper Pete and the Sucker Play
Dapper Pete Handley, the veteran con man, shook hands all around with his old friends in the detective bureau and followed his captors into the basement. Another pinch for Dapper Pete; another jam to pry out of. The cell door closed and Pete composed his lean, gambler's face, eyed his manicured nails and with a sigh sat down on the wooden cell bench to wait for his lawyer.

"Whether I'm guilty of this or not," said Dapper Pete, "it goes to show what a sucker a guy is - even a smart guy. This ain't no sermon against a life of crime I'm pulling, mind you. I'm too old to do that and my sense of humor is workin' too good. I'm only sayin' what a sucker a guy is - sometimes. Take me."

Dapper Pete registered mock woe.

"Not that I'm guilty, mind you, or anything like that. But on general principles I usually keep out of the way of the coppers. Especially when there's been a misunderstanding concerning some deal or other. Well, how I happen to be here just goes to show what a sucker a guy is - even me."

The auto ad with the fake orgy

Yes, sex in a car on a busy street would attract attention.

A car parked outside the Erotika sex shop in Milan, Italy looked like it contained an orgy. But, no, it was just another example of either clever or disgusting guerrilla advertising, depending on your point of view.

On the side of the car was a sticker 
which said: "Toys you can't wait to use."

There are no plans to sell these sexy 
optical illusion window designs 
to the public.

Fake Car Orgies, Trendhunter>>

The lifesize puppet Eumel

 Ignore the people behind that puppet (you will.)

Puppetry can be like an optical illusion in three dimensions. We know what's true, but it fools us anyway.

Watch this video of the street puppet called Eumel, operated by the German puppet group Stabfigurencompany. What's interesting is how easily we ignore the five masked human operators and concentrate on the stick puppet. The humans are right out in the open, but we don't focus on them because we're interested in the puppet, and not just because he's fluorescent orange and yellow and the puppeteers are dressed in black.

Why do we focus on the puppet? It's because Eumel interacts with people, and we watch to see what he will do, and how others will respond to him. The operators become inconsequential, like strings on marionettes, or the rods that create arm movements on muppets. We can easily see these things, but we choose to ignore them. We choose not to see them.

When we recall a performance by a puppet "actor" where we can see how they move, don't we remember what the actor did, and not how the actor did it? We might tell others: "I saw this big puppet controlled by five people, and the puppet climbed on top of this person and..." We don't say: "Five people made the puppet climb on this person..." Instead, we focus immediately on the character of the puppet, and forget who or what makes the puppet work.

That's how our attention is diverted, and how we're mildly deceived into believing the puppet is "alive."

Eumel the puppet in Berlin

If you like him, here are more videos of Eumel in action:
- Eumel rides a bicycle>>
- Eumel in winter in front of the Bundestag>>
- Clearer video of Eumel's climbing routine>>
- Eumel greeting the crowd (I suggest turning off the annoying and inappropriate music)>>
- Eumel encounters a children's theater group who won't react to him because they're "frozen">>
The company that runs Eumel: Stabfigurencompany>>

The upside down room optical illusion


I found this photo but know nothing about it except it was labeled Sottosopra, which means "upside down" in Italian. Is it a room built upside down or merely a Photoshopped woman on the ceiling?

Could this be the reality?

Visit Coney Island in the summer of '38

Greetings from Coney Island, New York

This atmospheric 1938 article in Fortune Magazine profiles the unique world of Coney Island, including the outside talkers and freak show proprietors. Read it to get a sense of the pre-war scene on the boardwalk, including the advertisers and practitioners of deceptive games of all kinds:
At ten the dour, octogenarian Paddy Shea, "the original," "the old reliable," takes his seat at the door of his "Gilsey House" saloon. Coney Island is officially awake. And as though at the appearance of a concertmeister the Coney Island orchestra starts tuning up. A spieler tests his microphone with a sudden blast of sound. "Have you tried it? Have you tried it? It's Fascination -- that fascinating game." And a block away another answers, "Learn to play Bingo. Free game now going on." And down the street another picks it up -- and another -- and another -- a growing wave of sound flowing up the island and returning and flowing back again. "Get your hot dogs here. Red hot." -- "Three balls for a dime. Step right up. The ladies play it too." -- "Charlie McCarthy. Take home a Charlie McCarthy." -- "Test your skill. Everybody wins." -- "Get your thrill here. Fastest ride on the island." -- "Have you tried it? You'll like it. Oh boy, you'll like it." -- And the shills and the boosters move up to the game tables -- and a carrousel organ breaks into Bei mir hist du schön -- and the gaily painted horses with their necks arched high move off in stately procession -- and the tinsel changes to gold -- and adventure walks suddenly in the streets-and under the hot summer sun Coney Island slowly melts and comes slowly to a boil...
 Talking up the freak show, trying 
to get the crowd to spend a nickel.
There are three freak shows of a sort at Coney Island, but the islanders will tell you that there is only one showman. That's Sam Wagner of the World Circus Side Show, Inc., who has been in the business thirty-five years. Sam's two boys handle the spieling and inside lecturing. Sam didn't think much of the idea -- tried to persuade them to get into something else; but it didn't work...
 "Laurello, the Only Man With 
a Revolving Head" 
(yes, he was real) 
appeared in Sam Wagner's 
freak show 
on Coney Island.
Sam's present show, and he admits it isn't up to some others he's had, includes: The Spider Boy; Singing Lottie, Fat Girl (O Boy, Some Entertainer); Laurello, the Only Man With a Revolving Head (See Frisco, the Wonder Dog); Professor Bernard, Magician Extraordinary (He will fool you); Professor Graf, Tattoo Artist (Alive); and his star act, Belle Bonita and her Fighting Lions (Action, Thrills)...
Read the whole article:  To Heaven by Subway>>

- To Heaven by Subway (Fortune Classics, 1938) Fortune Classics, CNN Money>>
- Like Coney Island? Visit>>
- More about sideshows from Todd Robbins at Confessions of a Glass Eater>>

Click on this tricky web page

"Like the circles that you find 
in the windows of your mind."

Click here for a burst of revolving trickster internet (Turn down your sound because music starts automatically)>>

(And yes, you can search for anything.)

- The revolving internet by Constance Dullart>>
- Song "The Windmills Of Your Mind" by Dusty Springfield:
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel.

As the images unwind
Like the circles
That you find
In the windmills of your mind.

Should this woman lie about being a virgin?

 "But honey, the sheets are so white."

Emily Yoffe, who writes as the advice columnist Dear Prudence, responds to a woman who asks whether she should deceive her future husband into believing she's not a virgin:
Q. Virginity: This December I am marrying a wonderful man who is from a different culture. He comes from a conservative background where young people are expected to stay virgins until their marriage. He also has this view on sex and has remained a virgin as well. Whenever we discussed sex, he said it was very difficult growing up in America and staying a virgin, but he has, because he sees sex as a special thing he wants to reserve only for his wife. The only thing is, this won't be my first time. I've had two partners previously, both in a serious relationship. I never explicitly said I wasn't a virgin but led him to believe I was. I asked him hypothetically one day (before we started dating) how would he feel if his future wife had sex before meeting him. He said that this would be a deal breaker for him. In my mind it's not a big deal having partners before marriage, but it clearly is for him. Do I say anything at this point?

A: Let's say your fiance was from a culture in which it was acceptable for men to have more than one wife, and before you started dating he asked you how you felt about polygamy. You replied that it would be a deal breaker. So you two started going out, fell in love, and got married. And as you embarked on the honeymoon he broke the news that Wife No. 1 would be accompanying you because to him polygamy was just a normal thing.

Before you even went out with this man, he laid out his bottom line on getting laid. You chose to ignore his fundamental beliefs because to you it doesn't make sense to be a virgin until marriage. I'm on your side in this debate. Frankly, since you're sexually experienced, I can't imagine why you'd want to marry someone before having a test run. Nonetheless, as silly as you may find your husband's convictions, they are his, he made them explicit, and you are starting your marriage based on a lie. When there is a lack of bloody sheets on your honeymoon, are you going to trot out the old canard that your hymen got ripped while horseback riding? When you start to blurt out, "I like it better if you—I mean, I have no idea what I like," won't he perhaps be suspicious? Before this goes any further, you must tell him the truth. That he loves you and wants to marry you might mean he is willing to examine his beliefs in light of the fact that you aren't a virgin. The Virgin Suicides is supposed to be an excellent novel; you don't also want it to be the theme of your new marriage.
NOTE: The photo of the couple in bed is actually a photo of an optical illusion bedsheet that has an image of a couple printed on it. (Well, the heads are of real people.) The sheets were created by the designers at "Bless." Click on the bed pic to enlarge it.

- He'd Like a Virgin, Slate>>
- Bless>>

She loved a man who lied (and killed)

Robert Upton was not a good boyfriend

It would be bad enough if you discovered your boyfriend was a liar, but what if nothing he told you was the truth? And what if had possibly murdered your sister's husband?

She wasn't gullible, but she had her doubts.

She said she wouldn't date him until he could prove he was divorced, so he showed her fake divorce papers.

He said he used to be a Navy Seal, but there was no concrete proof.

He said he currently worked for the National Security Agency, but his NSA badge had a mispelled word.

Erin O'Malley

Yet after his brother Aris Manoloules - who was your sister's husband - was murdered, she talked:
Erin O'Malley wept lightly, a tissue clutched firmly in her right hand, as she told prosecutors about the man she said fooled her for years.

"I was very distraught, because somebody was dead and I'd been lied to for years," O'Malley said about her state of mind on Oct. 1, 2009, the day she discovered that Robert Upton, the man she'd dated for the past few years, had been charged with murdering a Framingham man...

O'Malley, a popular daytime DJ on Mix 104.1 FM in Boston, has played a key role in the case so far. When police searched her Newton apartment the day her boyfriend was arrested, they came up empty.

A few days later, on Oct. 5, O'Malley said, she had a "gut feeling" the police missed something, and, with the help of her sister, found what appeared to be a gun case and a box of bullets in a brown paper bag leaned up against a box containing a fake Christmas tree.

"This isn't happening," O'Malley uttered after finding the locked case. "He wouldn't do this. This isn't real."

O'Malley said she pried open the case with pliers hoping she'd find nothing inside. Instead, she testified, she found a black Ruger P85 9mm handgun that prosecutors have said her ex-boyfriend had bought hours before he shot Aris Manoloules dead.

"I would give anything to not be involved in this nightmare," O'Malley said, describing her two-year relationship with a man who she said had convinced her he was a divorced well-to-do employee of the National Security Agency.

In reality, prosecutors say Upton was a married, unemployed father who desperately needed money to support the facade he portrayed to O'Malley.
She and Mr. Upton had been planning to get married.

Read more details at: Boston radio host says murder suspect deceived her, The Metrowest Daily News>>

Pranks by a deceptive store clerk

"Look Mike, there's more fish in the bottles."

If they're not personally in danger, most people have subdued reactions when confronted by the very weird. Watch their reactions as magician Michael Carbonaro pulls magical pranks in this clip shown on the Jay Leno show.

The deceptive clerk

Magic Clerk 2! from michael carbonaro on Vimeo.

Literally, it's one big dam prank

Just cut it out, say painting pranksters

Unknown pranksters have made their wishes known with some creative graffiti on Matilija Dam. The dam was built in 1948 across the Ventura River in California. The reservoir it created is now filled with huge amounts of sediment, and plans to take the dam down to restore the river are going slow.

They were not sloppy 
in expressing their sentiments.

- Matilija Dam: environmental eyesore, work of art, Ventura County Star>>
- Found thanks to The Art of the Prank>>

Deception and survival in the Libyan war

Who is this man?

Is he a rebel or a Qaddafi loyalist? Did she kill willingly for the regime, or was she coerced? Some played dead to avoid death, an assassin decides to fake his assassination attempt to avoid real bloodshed, fake IDs, switching sides... trying to unravel the mess of truth and lies during the chaotic waning days of the war in Libya:
Everyone in Tripoli, it seemed, had been with Qaddafi, at least for show; and now everyone was against him. But where did their loyalty end and their rebellion begin? Sometimes I wondered if the speakers themselves knew. Collectively, they offered an appealing narrative: the city had been liberated from within, not just by NATO’s relentless bombing campaign. For months, Qaddafi’s own officers and henchmen had quietly undermined his war, and ordinary citizens had slowly mustered recruits and weapons for the final battle. In some cases, with a few witnesses and a document or two, their version seemed solid enough. Others, like Mustafa Atiri, had gruesome proof of what they lived through. But many of the people I spoke with lacked those things. They were left with a story; and they were telling it in a giddy new world in which the old rules — the necessary lies, the enforced shell of deference to Qaddafi’s Mad Hatter philosophy — were suddenly gone. It was enough to make anyone feel a little drunk, a little uncertain about who they were and how they got there.
- The Surreal Ruins of Qaddafi’s Never-Never Land, The New York Times>>
- The man in the photo was not a prisoner. He was a rebel. The New York Times photo caption: "Anti-Qaddafi fighters relaxed near a tank in Wadi Dinar.">>

Recreating M. C. Escher in Minecraft

He built the illusion block by block.

A user named Bergenco made M. C. Escher's famous optical illusion lithograph Relativity using the Minecraft construction video game.

Here it is in color.

How well did he do?

 The original - M. C. Escher's "Relativity"

Why did this secret war diary remain secret?

Even after the war, secrets were kept

We live in a more open and transparent society where feelings and experiences are shared, so we might forget that it hasn't always been that way.

During World War II, a special commando unit called the British special forces unit, the SAS, was formed, which operated behind enemy lines to commit sabotage and aid resistance against German forces.

One member gathered information about the men and their missions, bound it in a 500-page book, and then stored it away for over 50 years. Before his death, he gave it to the SAS Regimental Association. But they told very people that it existed.

Finally, an outside researcher found about it, and the information was used to create a book.

Why did this remain secret for so long?

Attitudes about secrecy were very different then, and men did not openly share their war experiences with outsiders.

During the war, while they were deceiving the enemy, these soldiers kept their secrets, and even after the war, when secrets weren't necessary for the war effort, they continued to remain tight-lipped:
"I had no idea someone was putting the diary together," says 91-year-old Mike Sadler, who was 21 when he became a member of 1 SAS and Stirling's navigator.

"When the regiment was disbanded after World War II we all went our different ways. Anyway, we never spoke about what we did. We just didn't think that way and still don't.

"I would have done the same thing as that man and put the diary away in a cupboard, I still would today. The thought of publishing the diary would not have crossed our minds."
- The SAS secret hidden since World War II, BBC News Magazine>>
- World War II British propaganda poster designed by Abram Games>>
- Image found at Webposters, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore>>

7 steps for ripping people off with fake checks

Also, have counterfeit IDs with aliases ready, too.

If you want to make some money as a counterfeiter, you can try this real-life fraud as practiced by Dante Karyn Sumlar:
  1. Print a bunch of fake checks. Just make up the routing and account numbers, but put a real toll-free number on them. (More about that later.)
  2. Go after big businesses, such as Walmart, Best Buy, Macy's, Toys R Us and Target.
  3. Find a guy at a homeless shelter, pay him $200 and buy him some new clothes.
  4. Give him a fake $5,000 check to cash.
  5. Pay someone else to drive him to a store to buy $5,000 in gift cards.
  6. Pay another person to answer the toll-free number on the checks. Coach her on what to do and how to sound like a legitimate business when a business calls to verify the check.
  7. Hope that a smart store clerk doesn't get suspicious about the high check amount and call the bank to discover that the routing number on your fake check is made up...
Which is what happened to Mr. Sumlar, who was arrested as the mastermind of the above crime.

His scheme successfully used 21 counterfeit checks around Houston, Texas to cheat merchants out of close to $100,000.

He was also on the U. S. Secret Services "most wanted" list for previous theft, fraud and other charges. He pleaded guilty.

- Two accused in elaborate fake check cashing scheme, ABC 13, KTRK>>
- Dante Karyn Sumlar on America's Most Wanted>>

Santana's optical illusion album cover

 Santana's 1969 debut record album

Can you find the numerous hidden faces and other deceptive oddities in the image above? I count at least 12 faces. (Clicking on it will greatly enlarge it for your search.)

The artist, Lee Conklin, created many memorable 1960s psychedelic posters. He adapted the Santana album cover design from a poster he did for a concert starring Steppenwolf, the Grateful Dead and others at Bill Graham's San Francisco music venue, the Fillmore West.

 The original optical illusion lion poster

- Read more about the image and the artist at RockPopGallery>>
- Take a look at the artist's site for more examples of his work: Lee Conklin>>

Brad Pitt is a good prankster

(His joke involved the 1980s music group 
"Wham!", shown above)

Brad Pitt obviously knows how to do a practical joke. In the video below, actor Jonah Hill tells David Letterman how co-star Brad Pitt pranked him on the set of the film "Moneyball."

Jonah Hill loves Wham!

He was a charming lady-killer

Twenty-nine year old music teacher Andrew Lindo
could not control his penis.

Here's a story from the UK about a 29-year-old man who knew what he wanted, and could not stop lying to get it.

Andrew Lindo was living with his fiance, Marie Stewart, and had two children with her. But that didn't stop him from having sex with many other women.

To win them over, he pretended he was a single parent.

Whenever he had sex at his house, he removed any items that showed he was living with Ms. Stewart.

When two other women he was seeing became suspicious of each other, he lied to each of them and said that it was the other woman who fancied him.

He was also sleeping with a 15-year old student.

When one woman saw his fiance's web page which said they were living together, he lied and said that that woman was lying because of a custody dispute over their daughter.

Finally, Angela Rylance, who also considered herself his fiancée, wanted to break it off with him. She said he was lying about that woman. Ms. Rylance said she wouldn't believe him until she could spend the night in his house.

He agreed to have her over.

But what to do about Ms. Stewart, the fiancée he was living with?

He had to come up with a solution.

His solution was to kill her.

So he strangled Ms. Stewart, beat her with a children's chair, wrapped her head with bubble wrap and stabbed her 12 times.

Then he stuffed her body in a suitcase and put it in the garage.

He texted Ms. Rylance, saying he would be a little late.

After cleaning up the mess, he took his children with him when he drove to pick her up.

They had sex in the same bedroom where he had just killed his fiance.

Later, she moved in with him.

She, of course, knew nothing about any of this.

After Ms. Stewart went missing, he pretended to be her, using text messages and Facebook to act as if she was still alive.

The fake messages said she had left him and was soaking up the sun in a foreign country.

His charade went on for seven weeks, until friends and family got suspicious and police found her body, decomposing in the garage.

Mr. Lindo claimed that he did kill her, but it was only because he had lost control because she had mistreated their daughter.

He said he was not a murderer.

The jury took 55 minutes to convict him.

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison, and showed no emotion when the verdict was read.

'Cunning, cruel and totally remorseless': Serial cheat teacher jailed for life after beating his fiancée to death, Daily Mail>>

"The truth will set you free..."

 "But first, it will piss you off."

A quote by Gloria Steinem.

- The quote is based on the passage found at John 8:32 in the Christian Bible (See it in context at Bible Gateway>>)
- Bio of Gloria Steinem, at Wikipedia>>
- The photograph is from a series called End Times by Jill Greenberg>>
- Jill Greenberg bio at Wikipedia>>

High school chainsaw prank goes bad

"This is what happens when your homework is late!"

Depending on your point of view, this Halloween prank was either done by fun-loving teachers, or idiots.

A teacher told a 15-year old boy at Taunton High School in Massachusetts to answer a knock on the classroom door. When he answered, a teacher appeared, wearing a mask and wielding a chainsaw.

The kid tried to run but fell and fractured his knee. A year later, his parents sued the school over his injuries. The school didn't identify the teacher involved, but said school insurance might cover the incident.

Comments on the newspaper story pointed out that if a student had done this prank, even if nobody had been injured, all hell would have rained down on that student. They said kids can't even bring butter knives to school, let alone running chainsaws.

I couldn't find out if the chainsaw was real or not.

In today's world, a student would be expelled 
for even bringing this to school.

Lessons for any budding pranksters?

Institutionalized pranking is probably a bad idea. If a joke causes an injury, the responsible party should pay up, but get a bureaucracy like a school district involved, and even Leatherface would get bogged down.

- Alleged Taunton teacher prank triggers suit. Parents say son was injured in instructor’s classroom joke, Taunton Daily Gazette>>
- Photo of the character Leatherface is from the end of the original 1974 movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which in my opinion is the best-named horror film of all time.

Scam victims converge on one New York building

 As a sick joke, did fraudsters use the real building named
Camelot because it's also the name of a fictional castle?

This would ruin anyone's vacation.

A residential building called the Camelot, near Times Square in New York City, has been used by internet con artists as an address in a con where scammers pretend to rent a room that doesn't exist to overseas tourists.

Victims use money orders to pay what they assume are legitimate real estate agents, and they arrive in the U. S. with fake contacts.

In the summer of 2010, the building super said over 50 people arrived looking for the room they paid for.

Unfortunately, local police can do nothing, since it's an overseas crime.

Midtown building caught in Internet scam of overseas tourists, New York Post>>

A tricky deck of cards for a tricky man

An optical illusion honors an enigmatic author.

In 1902, a book on sleight-of-hand with cards appeared, written by a man named S.W. Erdnase. It was called The Expert at the Card Table: The Classic Treatise on Card Manipulation, and detailed how to perform manipulations useful to both magicians and gamblers, such as false shuffling, dealing from the bottom of the deck, palming and more.

Yet Erdnase was not the author's real name. It was a pseudonym for another man, and many believe that man was W. E. Sanders, a card player and magician whose name just happens to be an anagram for S.W. Erdnase.

The Conjuring Arts Resource Center published a deck to honor Mr. Sanders / Erdnase, with an optical illusion on the back. It's an ambigram created by artist Scott Kim that reads “S.W. Erdnase” or “W.E. Sanders”, depending on which way the deck is turned.

- Erdnaseum Commemorative Playing Cards, Conjuring Arts Research Center>>
- Scott Kim>>

Orchid's sexual deception triggers ejaculation

The poor deluded wasp is called Lissopimpla excelsa.

I could not improve on the original title, so I let it be. (Don't worry, it's only botany and entomology, so it's safe for work.) A video from New Scientist explains how the wily Australian tongue orchid dupes wasps into having flower sex so the orchid can spread its pollen.

Orchid's sexual deception triggers ejaculation

Wasp photo from Pbase>>

Conned by your brain's oxytocin

One slow Sunday afternoon, a man comes out of 
the restroom with a pearl necklace in his hand. 
"Found it on the bathroom floor" he says...

When he was working in a gas station in high school, neuroeconomist Paul J. Zak was conned by the "pigeon drop scam." He explains how our brain chemistry is fooled by a good con artist:
Why did this con work? Let's do some neuroscience. While the primary motivator from my perspective was greed, the pigeon drop cleverly engages our oxytocin system... Social interactions engage a powerful brain circuit that releases the neurochemical oxytocin when we are trusted and induces a desire to reciprocate the trust we have been shown--even with strangers.

The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you. Conmen ply their trade by appearing fragile or needing help, by seeming vulnerable. Because of oxytocin and its effect on other parts of the brain, we feel good when we help others - this is the basis for attachment to family and friends and cooperation with strangers. "I need your help" is a potent stimulus for action.
Read more: How to Run a Con - Why our brains make us vulnerable to con men, The Moral Molecule, Neuroscience and economic behavior Psychology Today>>

13 deceptive photos by Chema Madoz

But is it water?

I love the playful surrealism in these sneaky photos by the Spanish photographer Chema Madoz. Sometimes what you see is very obvious, and other times you have to look more closely.

See more photographs at his site: Chema Madoz>>