When confidential informants get killed

Her father sat by his daughter's grave.
She was a confidential informant.

If the police are trying to catch a criminal, many times they'll use an informant, who they recruit after they've been caught doing something illegal.
Informants are the foot soldiers in the government’s war on drugs. By some estimates, up to eighty per cent of all drug cases in America involve them... For police departments facing budget woes, untrained C.I.s provide an inexpensive way to outsource the work of undercover officers. “The system makes it cheap and easy to use informants, as opposed to other, less risky but more cumbersome approaches,” says Alexandra Natapoff, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a leading expert on informants. “There are fewer procedures in place and fewer institutional checks on their use.” Often, deploying informants involves no paperwork and no institutional oversight, let alone lawyers, judges, or public scrutiny; their use is necessarily shrouded in secrecy.
It doesn't always go as planned, as in the case of LeBron Gaither.
After one of these stings, Gaither, by then eighteen, was called upon to testify before a grand jury against Jason Noel, a local drug dealer whom he’d set up. The next day, the police sent Gaither out with a wire and cash to buy still more drugs from Noel—a decision that one state attorney later called the most “reckless, stupid, and idiotic idea” he had seen in his nineteen years of legal work. The meeting was to take place in the parking lot of a local grocery store; Gaither was instructed to say, “This looks good,” once he had the drugs in hand. At that point, the police would move in for the arrest. If something went wrong, he was to say, “I wish my brother was here,” and officers would hasten to his aid.
Shortly after the sting began, however, detectives lost track of Gaither when Noel, who had learned of the teen’s testimony from a grand juror, drove off with him. Gaither was tortured, beaten with a bat, shot with a pistol and a shotgun, run over by a car, and dragged by a chain through the woods.
Read the article: The Throwaways. Police enlist young offenders as confidential informants. But the work is high-risk, largely unregulated, and sometimes fatal, The New Yorker>>

Man found guilty in Rachel Hoffman's murder, Tampa Bay Times>>

3 deceptions involving Snickers candy bars

This reversible guy loves Snickers candy bars

Snickers optical illusion ad - 
Grumpy because no Snickers

Snickers optical illusion ad - 
Happy because Snickers

Deceptive (and creepy) Snickers TV commercial

And finally, a news item:

Rogelio Mauricio Harris was flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo when custom agents looked closer at the box of 45 Snickers bars in his luggage and discovered that underneath the delicious chocolately coating was several pounds of methamphetamine.

 "We are very disappointed by this unfortunate 
use of one of our brands," said Mars, Inc, 
the maker of Snickers.

- Snickers: Beanie Face, Ads of the World>>
- Man Accused of Smuggling Meth as Snickers Bars, Wall Street Journal>>

Insurance scam... or very clever man?

Did this guy steal from insurance 
companies or exploit their loopholes?

Joseph Caramadre is a lawyer and financial planner who likes to read the fine print. Now he's being attacked by both the insurance companies and the FBI.

It used to be that insurance companies wanted the buyer of a policy to have an "insurable interest" if they bought a policy for someone else. The insured should have a relationship with the buyer, such as a relative or a spouse, for instance.

When Mr. Caramadre saw that insurance companies were selling something called a variable annuity that would let you invest your money and pay even more if you died, he read the fine print and wondered: what if you didn't need to have a relationship with the dying person to collect the money?
Insurable interest worked fine for 200 years or so until the life insurance business itself changed. Despite its name, the industry doesn't sell as much "life insurance" anymore. Life companies now peddle financial services, particularly annuities. Variable annuities were developed in the 1950s, initially as a way to give teachers retirement options. Insurable interest was not an issue and could have been an impediment to widespread adoption of the product...

As imagined by the insurance companies, variable annuities have two participants. There's the investor, the person who puts up the money. That person typically also serves as the annuitant, or the "measuring life." If that person dies, the death benefit is paid to the beneficiary, usually a spouse or child.

Caramadre realized it didn't have to be that way. There was no requirement that the investor and the annuitant be the same person. In fact, as he read the contracts, the annuitant didn't need to have a relationship with the investor at all. Caramadre or one of his clients could buy an annuity on the life of someone who was not expected to live long and then pocket any profit when that person died.

"All we need to do is replace the necessity of the investor having to die, with someone else, dying," says Caramadre.

If they chose well, the account went up and they reaped the benefits. If they chose poorly, the death benefit kicked in and they recouped their original investment.

"If you won, you keep the winnings. If you lose, they give you your money back," says Caramadre.
Read the article: Death Takes a Policy: How a Lawyer Exploited the Fine Print and Found Himself Facing Federal Charges, ProPublica>>

Prefer to listen? Here's an audio version of his story: Loopholes, from This American life>>

Why would an athlete stick pins in their testicles?

Pins poking into a pincushion.

The Paralympic Games is a sporting competition which involves disabled athletes who compete in categories similar to Olympic athletes.

And any time there's competition, there's the potential for cheating.

Some athletes who claim to be disabled may not be as disabled as they claim, while others may use banned substances such as steroids.

But there's a special type of scam that can be used by wheelchair athletes.

It's called boosting.

Boosting induces a state called autonomic dysreflexia.

It's caused when athletes with a spinal cord injury purposefully injure the lower part of their body, maybe by poking themselves with a sharp object or pulling straps too tight, breaking a toe, or, yes, impaling their private parts with pins. This doesn't cause the athlete any pain, yet it raises blood pressure enough to improve athletic performance, possibly up to 10 percent.

It also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Paralympics officials say it's not a widespread practice.

Said David Howe, a senior lecturer at the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Britain's Loughborough University:
"To assume people in Paralympic sport won't engage in whatever way they can to get an advantage is to put them on a pedestal... just because somebody has an impairment doesn't mean they're a virtuous person."
The secrets of 'boosting' revealed: How some wheelchair athletes cheat the system. Mail Online>>

3 impossible optical illusions by Erik Minnema

 He assembles an impossible frame.

He plays a game of Impossible Scrabble.

He rests after building an impossible object.

Mr. Minnema is a photographer in the Netherlands.

Erik Minnema, Flickr>>

The second act of Nicholas Cosmo, con man

He started Agape, an investment company.

Nicholas Cosmo worked at a stock brokerage firm, but he was a naughty boy. He was arrested for a series of improper and illegal actions, such as forging documents. He lost his broker's license, was told he could not associate with securities dealers, and was convicted of felony fraud.

He served 21 months in prison. When he got out of prison, he learned his lesson.

He started some investment companies of his own.

Over 4,000 investors trusted his companies with over $400 million, which he used to make short-term loans to businesses.

He hired ex-convicts as brokers and paid them very well.

His companies were called Agape World Inc. and Agape Merchant Advance LLC.  "Agape" means an unselfish brotherly love.

It also means a mouth wide open in surprise.

After five years, Mr. Cosmo was arrested.

He had orchestrated a scheme that stole over $195 million from his clients in a classic Ponzi scheme. The company paid clients who wanted cash with money they collected from other clients, but most clients were content with what looked like great returns on their statements.

Mr. Cosmo was sent back to prison, this time for 25 years.

- "Mini-Madoff" gets 25 years for $400 million Ponzi fraud, Reuters>>
- Nicholas Cosmo, Wikipedia>>

Why would art experts allow fake art to flourish?

"I'm not sure. Maybe it is a real 
painting by Leonardo DaVinci..."

An article in The New York Times explains why art scholars are afraid to say whether a work of art is real or fake:
As spectacular sums flow through the art market and an expert verdict can make or destroy a fortune, several high-profile legal cases have pushed scholars to censor themselves for fear of becoming entangled in lawsuits...

While some argue the fear is overblown, others warn the growing reluctance to speak publicly about authenticity could keep forgeries and misattributed works in circulation while permitting newly discovered works to go unrecognized. 
Read the article: In Art, Freedom of Expression Doesn’t Extend to ‘Is It Real?’ The New York Times>>

Art FUR art's sake: Russian artist recreates famous paintings… featuring her very fat cat, Mail Online>>

She was a con-man's daughter

The elderly were the best victims.

An essay by Billie Livingston, a daughter of a con man. She's written a novel, One Good Hustle, about the daughter of con artists:
Like most con-artists, my Dad and Jack preferred to target the elderly. In one scam, dressed in dark tailor-made suits, they would knock on a woman’s door, and hand her business cards that identified them as bank officers investigating an embezzler. The problem was internal, and they believed it was a teller. Sitting in the woman’s living room, my father would gaze into her eyes with concern and gently explain what an extraordinary public service she would be doing if she agreed to withdraw her savings for the sake of this on-going investigation. Once they had her money, Dad and Jack explained, they would enter the bank undercover, target the teller under suspicion, re-deposit the funds and if any of the cash went missing, the culprit would be caught. Twenty-five thousand dollars, a small fortune in the 1970s, was promised as a reward.
Read the essay: Tales from the Conman's Daughter, Hazlitt>>

Why the pilot ignored the bomb threat

Can you find the bomb cleverly hidden in this picture?

A British Airways plane was flying from London to Tokyo with 150 passengers on board when the pilot was told about a message while the plane was over the Middle East:
"The bomb on board will explode at 16.00GMT unless our demands are met"
The threat was written on the plane's toilet door. A member of the crew, steward Mathew Davis, age 22, discovered it and told both the pilot and his colleague, a stewardess.

She was terrified.

The pilot had some experience with situations similar to this. After consulting with security officials at Heathrow airport, he did not take the threat seriously and did not make an emergency landing.

He believed it was a hoax.

When the plane landed, Mr. Davis was asked to write a report about the incident.

His handwriting matched the writing on the back of the door.

Mr. Davis said he was hoping he would be seen as a hero in the crisis and get a promotion.

Instead he was arrested and sentenced to six months in jail.

The judge said:
"He plainly in the future shouldn’t be employed by any airline or in any position of trust such as this."
BA steward jailed for hoax bomb threat he left in plane's toilet so he could 'save the day' and be promoted, MailOnline>>

3 realistic drawings, drawn in time lapse

One of these playing cards is fake.
(The pencil, however, is real.)

Mark Crilley makes "realism challenge" videos where he duplicates a real object with his art. His YouTube channel features how-to draw videos. He's the author/illustrator of the comic books Brody's Ghost, Miki Falls, Akiko and Billy Clikk. 

Playing card

Crumpled paper


- Mark Crilley>>
- Found via Boing Boing: Realistic drawing of a torn-up playing card>>

The deceptive TV game show from 1956

Charles Van Doren on the cover 
of "TV Guide" magazine

Today, many people don't know the story of Charles Van Doren. In 1956, the 31-year old academic appeared on a quiz show called Twenty One. He was a popular contestant who won $129,000 and was watched by millions of Americans.

Later he admitted to a U.S. Congress subcommittee investigating TV quiz shows that the show was rigged - he had been given the answers and coached on how to respond:
"I was involved, deeply involved, in a deception. The fact that I, too, was very much deceived cannot keep me from being the principal victim of that deception, because I was its principal symbol..."
In an article for The New Yorker written over 50 years after the scandal, Mr. Van Doren broke his long silence and wrote about how the deception affected his life.

Read the complete article: All the Answers. The quiz-show scandals—and the aftermath. The New Yorker>>

The Great Tomsoni & Company

They combine comedy with impossible magic.

John Thompson and his wife Pamela Hayes play a competent yet ridiculous magician and his gum-chewing assistant, a parody of magicians who perform serious dove acts.

He says his funniest gags have come from actual mishaps he's had on stage.

He's worked behind the scenes with well-known magicians including Lance Burton, David Blaine, Chris Angel, and Penn and Teller.

I could watch him a million times, and every time he'll both fool me and make me laugh.

The Great Tomsoni & Company


How to steal $100 million worth of diamonds

Even the most secure vault in the world is vulnerable.

Here's a story of an audacious diamond theft carried out by a team of experts. But is the charming ringleader telling the entire truth?
They were accused of breaking into a vault two floors beneath the Antwerp Diamond Center and making off with at least $100 million worth of loose diamonds, gold, jewelry, and other spoils. The vault was thought to be impenetrable. It was protected by 10 layers of security, including infrared heat detectors, Doppler radar, a magnetic field, a seismic sensor, and a lock with 100 million possible combinations. The robbery was called the heist of the century, and even now the police can't explain exactly how it was done.
Eventually, most of the criminals were caught. How? Because of the careless handling of a bag of garbage.

The ringleader explains how they did it.

Read the whole story: The Untold Story of the World's Biggest Diamond Heist, Wired>

The hairy wig prank, the extended version

Hair prank for men, version 2

I previously posted a video of Joshua's epic prank where he cut off all his hair and made a wig, then fooled his friends with his newly shorn head. Here's his newer, longer version:

Wig from my own hair prank - ORIGINAL

Original post: He pranked them with his own hair>>

How a group of women rescue American sex slaves

From an actual ad in Backstage: "New Girl .. 
Sexy fun and exotic mia SPECIALS - 18"

They search for underage girls involved in the sex trade, searching online ads using phrases like "new to town" and "barely 18", and noticing if her photos display "teen acne, baby fat, or barely developed curves", all signs that she might be a young girl.

They both have intensely personal reasons for the work they do.

From an article in Marie Claire magazine:
At FAIR Girls' D.C. office, a five-person operation with secondhand furniture and a sole social worker — one of only a handful of organizations in the country dedicated to assisting teens escape the sex trade — Powell and her staff often get calls from police in the middle of the night saying they've found a girl in a prostitution ring who needs help. Powell will snap into action, counseling traumatized girls right off the street, finding them shelter, and sometimes reconnecting them with their families...

From their cramped office with bent blinds — the location of which is kept secret to protect former prostitutes from their violent pimps — Powell and Alissa scour the ads, looking for girls who bear the trademarks of adolescence, such as teen acne, baby fat, or barely developed curves. They search for key phrases like "new to town" and "barely 18," code words that may signal the girl is a minor. When they see a suspicious ad, Powell flags it for the local police officers she regularly works with, hoping they'll set up a sting with a male officer posing as a john. She reports about four ads each week...
Read more: Underage Girl Sex Trafficking - Online Sex Trafficking - Marie Claire>>

Ghostly skeletons made of light - an illusion

The Angel of Death

These skeletons only exist in the camera.

Darius Twin (Darren Pearson) creates photographs by opening up the exposure on his camera and using that long exposure to trace an image in a scene with a light pen.

Straight out of Grave

One Foot in the Grave

Breaking Bones - an animated sequence

He paints more than skeletons. Here's his favorite image, called Dariusaur.

 Mr. Pearson said Dariusaur required 
running up these stairs 50 times.

- More skeletons, in his "Afterlife" series, Flickr>>
- Darius Twin website>>
- Darren Pearson Interview, Light Painting Photography>>

Fake celebrity draws a crowd in Times Square

No one knew who he really was, yet 
groups of young women posed with him.

It's a modern version of the gag where one person looks up and points at the sky, and soon a crowd forms and they all begin to look up, even though they're looking at nothing.

Brett Cohen, a 21-year-old student, wondered what it would be like to be famous, so he staged a prank in Times Square in New York City. He hired two bodyguards and got 13 of his friends to follow him around as his entourage, with fake paparazzi snapping photos and filming him. Even though nobody in his group ever said he was famous, others began to react to him as if he was famous, with some commenting on the music they'd heard him record, and - oh yeah - that film they'd seen him in...

Fake Celebrity Pranks New York City

Sure, I'd buy art from this honest old man

He asked questions about her life, and 
seemed sympathetic about her ill child.

A woman saw an ad for great prices on Chinese art, so she visited the art dealer, an old Chinese man named Wan Lung Tsui. He who showed her an original painting by the famous artist Huang Zhou. She felt he was sincere and honest.

After doing some research, she thought she could sell the painting on an upcoming China trip for more than three times what he was asking, so she paid him $3,000 for that work and some other antiques.

When she had the works appraised, she discovered the antiques weren't that old, and the painting was a copy. Total value: about $250.

She returned to demand a refund and ran into another buyer who had also purchased a fake painting.

She still hasn't gotten her money back.

Experts warn that buyers should not buy art for an investment if they aren't knowledgable in the field and don't know where it came from.

Even if the seller looks sincere.

- Fake Chinese art scam hooks would-be investors, CTV News>>
- (By the way, the image is not of the fraudulent art dealer. It's a photo altered to make his face look even more sincere.) 
- Image from Imgur>>

Three optical illusions with dice

These dice create an impossible figure.

 These dice can be perceived
in many different ways.

In the video below, a single die breaks the laws of physics.

It's actually a magic trick, but I'm a sucker for tricks that fool you using simple little items to do impossible things. Even though there's a person operating it, and I know there's got to be something special about the items, I like to believe that they could operate by themselves as a kind of magical optical illusion puzzle.

The hydro die magic trick

Twisted Dice by Anh Pham, New Optical Illusions>>

Did this Ponzi scammer get scammed?

Samuel Israel was crazy about money.

What happened when Ponzi conman Samuel Israel met Bob Nichols, a conspiracy theorist and con man?

Mr. Israel came from money, and he wanted more. He set up a company called Bayou Group, a hedge fund that seemed to be making money for his investors, but in reality had lost hundreds of millions of dollars. He needed to score some quick cash.

When a psychic was right about meeting a man named Robert who would provide a great financial opportunity, he dismissed it, until he met Robert Booth Nichols, a kind of master spy, assassin, arms dealer and con man who knew about a clandestine computer program that secretly monitored financial transactions.

If only Mr. Israel could get ahold of that technology.

Mr. Nichols said he could get him something better:
Nichols told Israel that the most powerful institutions of the modern world—the U.S. government, the U.N., the IMF—were all a front. “There is a secret government operating within the world’s government,” he said. “They run a secret trading program—the high-yield market. Only a few chosen people participate in the program. The returns are staggering. The proceeds are used to fund black operations, fight wars, pay off foreign governments, and conduct good works in the Third World. I don’t know if I can get you into the market. But I know people who can give you a shot.” 
The con game proceeded, with heavy doses of conspiracy theory.

And then there's the murder, where Mr. Israel blew out the brains of a Pakistani assassin with a silencer-equipped 9-mm. Beretta handgun. Or so he believed:
In the year before his arrest, Israel had been living a kind of fantasy life, at the very center of an impossible-to-believe international conspiracy that mixed elements of dime-novel spy thrillers and an Illuminati-style financial cabal. But it was a fantasy life that had been remarkably well choreographed for him by a master confidence man who wove the story with just enough plausible detail, and staged just enough real-world encounters, that Israel, a con man himself, had come to truly believe it.
For Mr. Israel, it all ended with him being arrested and sentenced for his frauds. But before he could be put in prison, he faked his own suicide, and then, after four weeks of secretly living in a campground, he was talked into surrendering by his mother.

His story is detailed in the book Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market, and Wall Street’s Wildest Con by Guy Lawson.

Read the article: The U.S. Government Is a Sham. The Federal Reserve Is Running a Secret Bond Market. Global Finance Is Controlled by an “Upperworld” of Rogue Black-Ops Fixers. New York Magazine>>

Fund Manager Who Faked His Suicide Surrenders, The New York Times>>

The "My twin sister did it!" defense

The hotel ad said their rooms all had
"comfy beds with crisp, white linens 
and selection of firm and soft pillows."

A woman in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania rented a room in the Holiday Inn.

She obviously found the comfy bed linens very comfortable.

After she checked out, employees discovered that various items from the room, such as blankets, pillows, etc, were missing.

A police officer found the woman, Jennifer Brown, who is 31 years old, at a nearby hotel. He asked her about the missing things.

Ms. Brown said she didn't take them. She said it was her twin sister, Lisa Brown, who took them, and she was already gone.

The officer checked and did not find a record of a woman named Lisa Brown with the same birth date as Jennifer Brown.

Ms. Brown said that her twin sister had just contacted her and was bringing back the stolen goods.

The officer went back to her room to check for the items, which Ms. Brown denied were there.

He found them in a clear garbage bag behind the door.

Ms. Brown said her twin must have just put them there.

The officer arrested her for theft and for making a false report.

As you may have guessed, she does not have a twin sister.

However, before you get too smug about the twin defense, read my earlier post about Mitch Torbett's experience: "But my evil twin did the crime!"

Former Daugherty Twp. woman blames fake twin sister for hotel theft, Times Online>>

Bert and Ernie's secret revealed

Bert and Ernie, best friends on the children's 
television show Sesame Street, appear 
in a revealing photograph.

Jim Henson, Frank Oz and an unidentified
 "right hand man" puppeteer control them
from underneath the scene.

Photo source: unknown.

5 altered body parts - optical illusions

For another illusion, place your
hand over her top pair of eyes.

Chooooosan paints illusions on bodies.

This one combines a real battery 
cover and arm with a painting.

Didn't I see this in a horror film?

It's the grommets that get me.

A zipper within a zipper.

See more at: Chooooosan, Tumblr>>

They asked the internet to name their new soda

What could go wrong?

Marketers for the drink Mountain Dew created a promotion called "Dub the Dew" to name their new “Classic Mtn Dew with green apple attitude” soft drink. They set up a website to allow their fans to suggest names.

Bad idea.

Tricksters flooded the site with useless, ridiculous and offensive suggestions, such as:
  • Hitler did nothing wrong
  • Gushing Granny
  • Diabeetus
  • Gushin ' Granny
  • Grannies Squirt
  • Moist Nugget
  • Gooshing Granny
  • Fapulous Apple
  • Soda
  • Sierra Mist
Someone also hacked into the site to display the banner:
"Mtn Dew salutes the Israeli Mossad for demolishing 3 towers on 9/11!"
Marketers ended that particular Mountain Dew promotion.

- Mountain Dew’s ‘Dub the Dew’ Online Poll Goes Horribly Wrong, Hackers struck a promotional website for the soft drink, and chaos ensued, Time>>

Baseball player has a testosterone website problem

Melky Cabrera might be innocent.

A drug test found that player Melky Cabrera from the San Francisco Giants baseball team had taken the banned substance testosterone, so he was suspended for 50 games.

His excuse was that he took a supplement that he bought from an online website, so it wasn't his fault because he didn't know what the supplement contained.

Baseball's drug program allows a player to have drugs in his system if he took them through no fault of his own.

However, when investigators looked into the case, they discovered that a "paid consultant" working for Mr. Cabrera's agents had recently spent $10,000 to buy the website. The site had been altered, adding a topical cream that Mr. Cabrera might have purchased and which might have led to his raised testosterone levels, which means he then might have been found innocent.

Mighty Melky Cabrera was not found innocent.

Exclusive: Daily News uncovers bizarre plot by San Francisco Giants' Melky Cabrera to use fake website and duck drug suspension, New York Daily News>>

Find the clown's dog - an optical illusion

CLOWN - Find his dog.

This vintage optical illusion card is an advertisement for Holloway's Pills & Ointments, a popular patent medicine in 19th Century England.

The real trick was to find helpful ingredients in the "medicine" that this card advertised, since the pills and ointments contained very little real medicine. However, since Mr. Thomas Holloway advertised so extensively, they likely had a placebo effect for some.

But ignore all that. It's a clown. Find his dog.

Museo Ilusionario, Flickr>>

What happened when he missed jury duty

Serve, or you're in big trouble.

A man received a recorded phone message saying he had missed jury duty and had to call the National Justice Center.

When he called, the official voice said he had failed to show up for jury duty at 9 a.m. Monday. Now he had three options:
  • Press 2 to make arrangements to pay a $500 fine.
  • Press 3 to make arrangements to serve 30 days in jail.
  • A third option, which he was strongly suggested to take.
That option was to forward this message to 10 gullible friends.

Then there was laughter.

The call was a prank. There is no National Justice Center, and there was no address to send the fake fine. The calls were being made to random people.

Police decided to publicize the prank because many victims - who did not listen to the whole message - called the clerk of court's office to complain about being fined.

The news report is worth watching, here>>

Court officials aren't laughing at jury duty prank, The Moultrie Observer>>

The tabletop chef - an optical illusion

They used real food, a blowtorch, 
plastic clay and patience.
(Click to enlarge)

The design group Golpeavisa made a real-life anamorphic optical illusion of chef René Redzepi using food items for the cover of the inflight magazine Clase Premier.

How they did it
Clase Premier August 2012 Cover from Clase Premier on Vimeo.

The child pornographer who made a difference

Michael Dolson had a problem.

The 49-year-old was a child pornographer with a large collection of photos and videos, but he wanted more.

He sent potential molesters a photo of a woman abusing a 3-year-old child from his collection.

He pretended he was that woman, to encourage people to send him similar photos.

That was not quite enough, so he used computer software to disguise his voice so he could also talk like his fake persona.

He didn't only want to trade photos; he wanted others to abuse their own children and send him the images.

After one woman notified police, police took over her identity and corresponded with him.

Mr. Dolson tried to encourage the officer to find an infant to babysit and abuse.

He provided instructions.

When he was caught, he was sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison.

He used to be president and fundraiser for a field hockey organisation for kids.

In his letter to the judge, Mr. Dolson included a poem with a last line whose irony escaped him:
“What really matters is I made a difference in the life of a child.”
- Child pornographer altered phone voice to trick others into taking, sending photos, (The Post Standard)>>
- Former C-NS field hockey booster sentenced to 17.5 years on child porn charges,  9wsyr>>

Boy's room turns into girl's room in revenge prank

This is what his room looked like before 
a squad of pranksters went to work.

When Tobias Mathijsen's fifteen-year-old brother altered his Facebook profile as a joke, instead of starting a Facebook prank war, he swore to have his revenge.

And revenge he had.

He gathered his friends, and armed with cans of pink paint and objects more likely found in a girl's room, like Justin Bieber posters and girl's clothing, they completely transformed the heavy metal room into something a lot more girly.

As one prankster said, as he was affixing decorative flowers stickers to the wall: "The devil is in the details."

Some language NSFW, if you speak Dutch.

Revenge is a dish best served pink. (little girl's room)

Brother's room painted pink in revenge prank, Nine MSN>>

How a black man tricked a white judge in 1948

He found something the man didn't like.

In 1948, a white Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist disguised himself as a black man to report on how Negroes in the South lived under the segregated system of Jim Crow.

He shaved his head, donned big glasses, darkened his skin with a deep tan and traveled with a black man who was a civic and political leader in the black community and could make the appropriate introductions.

What reporter Ray Sprigle found was appalling.

In his series of stories called "I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days", Mr. Sprigle wrote of the petty humiliations of separate "colored" facilities, patients who died because they couldn't be treated at "white" hospitals, and black men unjustly murdered by white men who would never be charged for their crime.

Yet he found some who figured out a way to profit from the system...
A Leaf out of the Jim Crow Book
by Ray Sprigle

Here and there and now and then in the deep South you’ll find a Negro with a shrewd Yankee instinct for business, who is smart enough to turn the Jim Crow obsession of the southerner to his own substantial profit. And quite frequently that profit stems not from his own oppressed people, but from the lordly white man. I know at least one Negro who is an operator in a big way in downtown Atlanta business property. He works through a dependable white lawyer and his name rarely if ever appears in a transaction. Usually you’ll find Negro real estate operators dealing in white occupied property have to work that way.

But in one up and coming Georgia city we found a Negro real estate man who works it exactly in reverse. He’s one of the richest men, black or white, in his county. We stopped over with him one night. Nowhere but in the South with its inviolable Jim Crow tradition could you hear a success story like this one.
Buying on a Shoestring
"These crackers who insist upon buying farm or city property on a shoestring are almost bound to get behind on their mortgage payments after they have laid down all their ready cash," he told us.

"Then they come to me to borrow money after they’ve been turned down by white bankers and mortgage companies. I tell them the truth, that I can’t lend money to a white man because I’d never be able to collect if I had to sue in a Georgia court. They know it as well as I do. But I tell him that if he wants to sell his equity, I’ll buy at a substantial discount, of course. I don’t fool him there, either. He knows he can either take a small cash settlement from me or walk off his place without a nickel to his name. Then I pay off the mortgage and tile property’s mine.

"Now I know it would be worth my life to try to sell to a Negro, even if I could find one crazy enough to buy. But I just sit back, hold the property, do nothing and say nothing. It’s not long before the white people in the neighborhood begin to get restless. The mere fact that a Negro owns property in the neighborhood is bad for white morale. Worse, it’s bad for property values. So before long somebody shows up wanting to buy. I sell. At my price. And you can be sure I never cheat myself."

Proudest Realty Exploit

His proudest exploit, however, is a Florida deal he put over. He bought a clouded title for a pittance to help out a friend. Then he got to nosing around for a profit. He cleared the title without too much difficulty. He drove down to see his newly-acquired real estate and found that it lay directly in the rear of the somewhat pretentious estate of a Florida judge.

"Here, too, a threat - even implied - to sell to Negroes, would have been suicidal," grinned the black Wallingford.

"But there was nothing in law, tradition or custom that said I couldn’t sell to a white man - any white man. So I just scouted around the community until I found the meanest, drunkenest, most shiftless cracker in 20 miles. And the one with the biggest family of tatterdemalion kids. He was famous for worthlessness which suited me fine.

"I asked him if he wanted to make himself a ten-spot just for taking a 10-minute automobile ride with his family. He did. So I picked an afternoon when I knew the judge would be sitting on his front porch enjoying his mint julep. I drove up to my house and unloaded the cracker family. I marched them through the house and back again and loaded them into the car under the astonished eyes of the judge.

Phone Call From Judge

"You’ll never get a better buy," I assured them loud enough for the judge to hear. I took them home, slipped the cracker his ten and then kept right on going over the Florida line.

"Day or so later I got a telephone call from the judge. I’d seen to it that he didn’t have any trouble getting my phone number.

"Look here, you black so and so," was his opening gambit. After that he really warmed up.

‘’’You sell or rent to them damn shiftless crackers, he assured me, and I’ll come up there and shoot you dead. What do you want for that place?"

"I told him and you could have heard his screams of anguish for miles. I just kept on talking about what a valuable property it was and how I would have to wait for a more generous buyer. Finally he fought off apoplexy long enough to tell me:

"Make out your deed and send it along with a sight draft. And if I ever see you again I’ll kill you."

Well, it was funny. But when I reminded him that the judge could very well kill him and never do a day for it, the joke lost a lot of its savor.
Read the complete stories: Sprigle's secret journey, Post-Gazette>>

Photo: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory>>

The pencil on a desk - an optical illusion

Yes, it is a pencil. 
And yes, it is out-of-focus.

But no, 
it is not normal-sized.

- photoOpp, Flickr>>
- BaronBob giant pencil>>

Can you find the real magician on this TV show?

He appeared on a TV show along with 
two other men and three trunks.
"Alfred DeLage, once billed as America's Fastest Magician, appears as a contestant on To Tell the Truth (September 1, 1960) with host Bud Collyer and panelists Tom Poston, Kitty Carlisle, Ralph Bellamy, and Polly Bergen. He and his wife/assistant perform the Houdini Trunk Mystery." (Also known as Metamorphosis.)
Magician Alfred DeLage on "To Tell the Truth"

Thanks to Gregg Tobo for the find.

3 questions about deceptive characters

There's a reason he has a twinkle in his eyes.

Can you answer these three questions accurately? Be careful, because they're trickier than you think.
  1. His real identity is a secret to many little kids. He wears a red suit and has a long white beard, and sneaks into houses at night to give birthday presents to children. What's his real name?
  2. Some presidents are known as liars, while others are known for being extraordinarily truthful and not being able to tell a lie. In one exaggerated myth about the truth-telling tendencies of a past president, what specific kind of tree did Lincoln chop down?
  3. A type of female entertainer who wears a kimono has been known to pretend to have certain emotions. What's the historical name of this kimono-wearing "companion" who traditionally entertained Chinese men?
The answers...