Unlikely Internet Scammers
Oh, the internet. The wonderful home of carpool karaoke videos and viral cat memes also has a dangerous dark side. No, I’m not talking about the YouTube comments section. I’m referencing the cold, dangerous world of internet scams. Much like the endless stream of grandmas on Facebook, scams are an inherent part of internet culture. But not all internet scams are created equal. Internet scams can stem from the unlikeliest places, from the sweet elderly to capitalist kids. Check out this list of surprising internet scammers that will make you seriously question your faith in humanity.
The Crazy Catfish
There’s no shortage of catfishing stories. In fact, catfishing is one of the most common internet scams (falling right behind the “Nigerian Prince” scam in popularity). Still, no catfishing story is quite as crazy as the one featuring Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. The star linebacker gained even more fame after the world learned about the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, in 2012. The only thing is: she wasn’t real. It turns out that the “dead girlfriend” was actually Te’o’s longtime friend Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who later professed his love for his football player friend. It’s a tale as old as time: a close friend catfishing a sports icon on the national stage to deal with unrequited love. You can’t make this stuff up.
The Cajun Con Artist
Speaking of Nigerian princes, it turns out that one of them originates in The Big Easy. On one hand, it’s not all that shocking that this scammer isn’t from Africa. On the other hand, it’s a little surprising to discover that the culprit is a cajun grandpa. Michael Neu, a 67-year-old Louisiana man, was charged with 269 counts of wire fraud and money laundering in 2017. Turns out, he was less African prince and more Bernie Madoff. Working as a middle man, the elder cajun robbed hundreds of people after claiming to be a representative of a Nigerian beneficiary to millions of dollars.
We all remember legendary YouTube videos like “David After Dentist” and “Gangnam Style.” Back in YouTube’s infancy, however, there was really only one star: Lonelygirl15. Lonely girl was the angst-ridden teenager Bree Avery, who documented her daily life via a series of webcam videos. Bree was so famous that she once had the fastest growing subscriber base and even appeared in national news outlets. Though her videos started out relatively tame, they took a bizarre turn when she began talking about cults and the mysterious disappearance of her parents. Turns out: the videos were actually produced by a team of writers and Bree Avery was an up and coming actress. The collective YouTube world shamed her, right before rewatching “Charlie Bit My Finger” for the millionth time. Read more
The Six-Year-Old Scammer
Let’s face it: we’ve all made impulse purchases on Amazon. Most of us, however, don’t buy $350 worth of toys. That’s exactly what an opportunistic six-year-old Utah girl did after her mom allowed her to buy a Barbie doll for her birthday. The scammer in the making decided she had free reign of her mother’s Amazon account and purchased a laundry list of video games, board games, and toys. The next day, the Amazon delivery man showed up with a haul of toys so big that even St. Nick would be jealous. This might not be the most elaborate of scams, but it’s not a bad start for a kindergartner. Read more
The Canadian Witch
Have you ever met a mean Canadian? Our neighbors to the north are known more for their general politeness than petulant fraud and crime. Not this Canadian. 27-year-old Samantha Stevenson scammed her way to over $600,000 by claiming she was a witch. Seriously. The Toronto woman acted as a psychic and convinced her 67-year-old victim that she could rid him of evil spirits – for a hefty price. The man sold his car and used credit card funds to repeatedly pay Stevenson for her majestic powers. The woman eventually faced witchcraft charges, which is apparently a thing in both 17th century Salem and 21st century Canada. Read more
The German Banker
We’ve all dreamed of being a famous doctor. That is, until we consider that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of intense training. That didn’t stop one German banker from living out his dream of being the next Dr. McDreamy. The culprit, Christian Eberhard, was able to successfully score a position at the University Hospital Erlangen after creating a fake medical degree online. The faux Oxford degree included a litany of spelling errors, but he was still hired and eventually conducted nearly 200 operations, including amputations. Just in case you weren’t already scared of the doctor’s office. Read more
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