1. Someone Is Meticulously Shaving Kittens and Selling Them as Hairless Sphynx
Genuine Sphynx cats usually sell for $1,000 or more, so when Shayla Bastarache, from Alberta, Canada, saw an ad for a Sphynx kitten for just $650, last month, she thought it was too good a deal to pass up. There was no photo attached to the ad, but the price was so enticing that she agreed to meet the seller in a gas station parking lot an hour north of Calgary, at night. She handed him the money and received two hairless kittens, one for herself and one for a friend. Bastarache says she only realized that she had been scammed two weeks later, when both felines grew a thick coat and were revealed to be regular house cats. The cat lover, who owns two genuine Sphynx cats – for one of which she had paid $1,500 – said she was amazed by how thoroughly the animals had been shaved. “I don’t know how she did it,” Bastarche told reporters.
Soon after Shayla Bastarache’s case was reported by Canadian media, another woman cam forward with a similar story. Holly Rattray had posted an ad on Canadian free classifieds site Kijji, looking to purchase a hairless Sphynx. She was approached by a person called Tim, who offered to sell her a Sphynx kitten for just $700. Rattray arranged to meet a friend of Tim’s and pick up the cat in Red Deer, Alberta. She had to drive over two hours from her home in Bawlf, but just like in Bastarche’s case, the price was just too enticing.
Holly Rattray remembers that the woman she met in a parking lot seemed to be in a big hurry, and even accepted $550 for the cat, instead of the agreed $700. She stormed off as soon as she got the money, before Rattray had a chance to thoroughly inspect the animal. She later noticed that the poor kitten had wounds all over her body, which she now suspects had been done by a sharp razor blade.
She became even more suspicious after seeing how utterly hairless the kitten was. Genuine Sphynx cats usually have a bit of hair on the tail and near the feet, but this one was “literally hairless.”
“Even underneath its legs, it was so clean-shaven that my husband did question it,” she told CBC. “But my husband was like, ‘There is no way, honey, that someone could have shaved a cat this good.'” It turned out someone had indeed shaved the cat, because it soon grew a full coat. It turned out to be another regular house cat which they named Stripes.
After discovering that she had been scammed, Rattray did some online research and discovered a Facebook post by yet another Alberta woman who had fallen for the same trick. JoAnne Dyck had also bought what she though was a Sphynx kitten online, at an unusually low price – $700.
“He was like a little tiny kitten, no more than eight weeks old, and he was naked. Completely hairless,” Dyck remembers. “It looked like a sphynx because he was very, very skinny and his face was really angular.”
Only instead of wanting to be held to get warm, the kitten didn’t want anything to do with JoAnne and her family. It didn’t get along with her other cats, so she decided to give it away to another Sphynx lover. It wasn’t long before she learned that the kitten, named Vlad, had grown a full orange fur. However, his new owner, Shaniya Yung, decided to keep him despite being a regular house cat.
Both JoAnne Dyck and Shaniya Yung contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police about the scam, but were rebuffed because they didn’t have the seller’s information, and the supplied cell number wasn’t working anymore.
The Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said that it recently received its first call about a fake Sphynx, but no formal complain has been filed about it. And even if it had been, there’s not much they can do about it, unless someone actually witnesses the shaving and the cat in question has clear signs of physical abuse.
JoAnne Dyck says that the only way to avoid getting scammed is to buy Sphynx cats from reputable breeders, even if the price is considerably higher. “Definitely go to where the cats are being bred. Never meet them anywhere. If they won’t let you come to their house, their residence, it’s probably a bad sign,” she said. “Just be sure that it’s a reputable breeder if you’re looking for one of these specialty cats.”
2. Fake U.S. Embassy in Ghana Shut Down after Operating for a Decade
The real U.S. embassy in Acra is a large office building complete with security fencing and U.S. military guards, located in one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods, while the fake one was just a rundown, pink two-storey building with a corrugated iron roof and a United States flag flown outside. There were no actual Americans working there, not even con artists. Instead the staff was made up of English-speaking Ghanian and Turkish citizens. And yet, for 10 years, the organized crime ring operating this fake embassy was able to convince people to pay thousands of dollars for visas and false identification documents. Maybe it was the portrait of Barrack Obama that police found inside that made the place seem legit.
No that wasn’t it, actually, the criminals behind the operation were just really careful and paid off officials to turn a blind eye to their activities. The U.S. State Department revealed that the fake embassy operated three days a week, and didn’t accept walk-ins. Instead it used billboards and flyers to advertise their services in other cities in Ghana, but also Togo and the Ivory Coast. Interested clients were transported to Accra and offered accommodation in nearby hotels. At the embassy, they could pay for illegally obtained but legitimate U.S. visas, as well as false documents at a price of $6,000 each.
“It was not operated by the United States government, but by figures from both Ghanaian and Turkish organised crime rings and a Ghanaian attorney practising immigration and criminal law,” The U.S. State Department said in a statement. “For about a decade it operated unhindered. The criminals running the operation were able to pay off corrupt officials to look the other way, as well as obtain legitimate blank documents to be doctored.”
U.S. authorities were tipped off about the decade-old fake embassy while working on a completely different operation, and managed to shut it down with the help of the Ghana Detectives Bureau and police, as well as international partners. During the raid, they found 150 passports from 10 different countries and legitimate and counterfeit visas from the U.S., India, and South Africa.
Police could have gotten their hands on the industrial sewing machine used to recreate the binding on passports, but while preparing to raid the dress shop that allegedly housed the machinery, a corrupt local attorney falsely told detectives that they could not access the building because it was currently involved in another court case. By the time this claim was dismissed as a lie, the scammers arrested at the fake embassy had already been bailed out and managed to move all their counterfeiting facility elsewhere.
Fake US embassy in Ghana shut down after a decade
It flew the American flag, hung a photo of President Obama and issued US visas for more than a decade.
But a building that operated as a US embassy in Ghana was a fake, the US State Department says.
The enterprise, which issued fraudulently obtained legitimate visas, counterfeit visas, and other false identification documents, was overseen by figures from Ghanaian and Turkish crime rings working in cahoots with corrupt Ghanaian officials, the US State Department said in a statement. It operated three days a week in Accra, the capital.
The State Department did not say how many people may have entered the United States illegally using documentation issued by the crime ring, nor did it say how the ring may have obtained official documents.
Visas and passports from 10 different countries were found during raids on the nondescript stucco building with the corrugated tin roof, the State Department said.
Authorities shut down the operation after receiving a tip last summer and conducting a joint investigation by diplomatic security agents at the real US embassy in Ghana, Ghanian authorities and other international partners.
The operation also uncovered a fake Dutch embassy in Accra, the State Department said.
Authorities in Ghana and the Netherlands did not immediately respond to a request by CNN for more information.
The sham embassy advertised its services through fliers and billboards to cultivate customers from Ghana and neighboring countries, the State Department said.
3. Michigan College Student Hires Fake Family for Christmas Card
What makes the holiday card very non-traditional is that Brassow, of Saginaw, Mich., only met the family the day of the Christmas card shoot and found them online in an attempt to send the ultimate holiday prank to his relatives.
“I have six brothers and sisters. My mom has six brothers and sisters and my dad has five sisters,” Brassow said. “My family is all pretty socially conservative and everyone gets married and it’s set in stone.”
“I figured so many people hadn’t seen me in so long they’d think, ‘Man, I haven’t seen him in a few years and what did he get himself into. He got this woman twice his age pregnant and now has to step up and be a dad to these kids almost his age,’” Brassow said.
Brassow posted ads for a family on local Facebook pages in late November and said he was quickly flooded with replies. He offered to pay $20 for the shoot but the individuals responding to the ads said they'd pose for free.
People also offered to donate their photography skills and studio space to photograph the family that Brassow chose, a woman by the name of Jess Jaxx and her teenage sons.
“She said, ‘I can be an intimidating woman for your pictures. I have a lot of tattoos,’” Brassow recalled. “We tried our best to make her look intimidating and scary but she was such a good sport.”
“We had her stand on a box so she was taller than me and we just tried our best not to laugh,” he said.
The photos were printed last week and Brassow shared them on the private Facebook pages where he posted the ad because so many people were asking to see the final product.
The only problem was that people found the photos so funny they shared them too and the photos went viral before all of Brassow’s relatives got the card in the mail.
“My Aunt Beverly in Arizona said she read it in a news article and didn’t realize right away that it was me and was just reading about this strange kid,” he said. “She was laughing so hard she was crying and all of a sudden realizes it’s her goofy nephew.”
Brassow said his own parents also got a good laugh out of it, after some initial wariness since Brassow said he has been talking about the idea for a few years.
“I didn’t show my parents for a couple of days because I knew my mom wasn’t a fan from the start,” he said. “But I put the photo as their computer background.”
“My dad is a pretty stern guy but he came home and saw it and was laughing so hard there were tears in his eyes,” Brassow added.
The demand for the photos has been so high that Brassow just launched a Kickstarter page so even his non-family members can get his Christmas card.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better response,” Brassow said.
4. Woman Makes Fake License Plate Out of Cardboard to Fool Cops
Or not, because I’m not a crazy person.
This Massachusetts woman was inevitably caught with a homemade license plate, made from cardboard and drawn with pens and colored pencils. The woman clearly took some pains to make it look like a real license plate, even drawing in the state motto — but that wasn’t enough to fool those crafty Massachusetts cops.
She was pulled over on Tuesday driving down the I-391 in Chicopee, a town in the southern part of the state.
Evidently, the police found the whole ordeal as hilariously ridiculous as we do, as they posted a photo of the confiscated license plate on Facebook.
“The operator of the vehicle was charged with several violations, including having a suspended license and revoked registration,” Massachusetts State Police wrote on their Facebook page. “Moral of the story, if you shouldn’t be driving, please don’t.”
We’ve included the full Facebook post below, so you can see in detail the woman’s amazing handiwork and the Massachusetts State Police department’s impeccable sense of humor.
5. A Man Forged 31 Boarding Passes, Spent 18 Days at the Airport
A former business developer, Raejali Buntut was returning to Malaysia after a trip abroad when he overslept in the Changi Airport lounge and missed his flight home. Instead of booking a new flight, Buntut inexplicably spent 18 days—from August 21 to September 7—living in the airport. For more than two weeks Buntut bounced from transit lounge to transit lounge, using his computer to forge boarding passes for different airlines. Buntut, who is apparently savvy in both forgery and Photoshop, added his name, fake flight numbers, and fake destinations onto mobile boarding pass images he found online, according to The Straits Times.
But like all vacations, Buntut’s airport adventure eventually came to an end: An airport lounge employee finally noticed that Buntut had entered the lounge for the fourth time in just 10 days—a highly improbable event for even the most frequent flyers—and Buntut was arrested. It’s still unclear why he decided to spend weeks living in the airport instead of returning home, though it should be noted Changi Airport has no shortage of amenities. It has been dubbed both the "World’s Best Airport" and "The Best Airport For Leisure Amenities" by Skytrax and provides travelers with everything from shops and video games to a butterfly garden, and even a swimming pool with a Jacuzzi.
Man who missed flight and spent 18 days in transit using forged boarding passes jailed
SINGAPORE - A 32-year-old jobless Malaysian man who overslept at a Changi Airport lounge and missed his flight back to Kuala Lumpur decided to stay in the departure transit area.
For almost three weeks - 18 days from Aug 21 until Sept 7 - Raejali Buntut remained in transit by using 31 forged mobile boarding passes to enter several lounges in the three terminals.
But a staff at a lounge he had been to four times before saw through his ruse and called the police.
On Friday (Sept 16), Raejali, a former business development manager with Royale Consultant Management in Singapore, was jailed for two weeks after he pleaded guilty to three out of 31 charges of forgery.
A district court heard that Raejali had a ticket for an AirAsia flight, scheduled to depart for Kuala Lumpur at 7.05am on Aug 21.
The night before, he checked in at close to midnight and went to the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 - using his boarding pass and his Priority Pass, issued by Citibank.
But Raejali woke up late and missed his flight. He decided to continue using the facilities at the lounges in the departure transit areas of the airport's three terminals.
The court was not told why he wanted to stay at the airport.
Passengers are required to have a valid boarding pass to enter into a transit lounge. Since Raejali's boarding pass was no longer valid, he decided to forge boarding passes.
He downloaded images of mobile boarding passes issued by two airlines - Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines - from the Internet, and then used an image editing software on his laptop to alter them.
Raejali inserted his name, a false flight number and a false destination on the fraudulent mobile boarding passes, before sending them to his mobile phone.
He forged 31 such passes and used them at the following lounges:
- Dnata Lounge at Terminal 1 and Terminal 3;
- Sats Premier Lounge at Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3;
- Plaza Premium Lounge at Terminal 1;
- Ambassador Transit Lounge at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3; and
- The Green Market Lounge at Terminal 2.
For instance, he went into the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 at about 11.30pm on Aug 21, and next moved to the Sats Premier Lounge at the same terminal at around noon on Aug 23.
The next morning, he went to the Dnata Lounge at the same terminal, before going to the Ambassador Transit Lounge at Terminal 3 the following morning.
Last Tuesday, a staff at the Dnata Lounge at Terminal 1 called police when she suspected Raejali's misdeeds. He had entered that very lounge as recently as three days earlier, on Sept 3. He had also gone there on Sept 1 and on Aug 29 and Aug 24.
Policemen nabbed Raejali at about 4pm the next day.
In a statement, the police said it "conducts patrols and regular security checks on persons in the airport's transit areas to ensure the safety and security of all passengers."
Raejali's sentence was backdated to the date of his remand on Sept 9. For forgery, he could have been jailed for four years and fined per charge.
6. Florida Man Tries to Cash $368 Billion Check, and Then the Story Gets Really Weird
In late April, Jeff Waters strolled casually into a Bank of America in Jacksonville. (Raise your hand if you are surprised at all to hear that our story takes place in Florida. No one? Good.) He presented a check for the amount of $368 billion made out to cash.
And this is when the story gets really weird.
Apparently Waters bought a blank U.S. Bank of Idaho check from the '90s off of a homeless man named Tito for 100 bucks. Good ol' Tito told Waters that he could make that check out to any amount he wanted, and Jeff was going to go big. He could have written just $10 million and be set for life. But no. He went for the billions.
Why so much money? He needed the very specific amount of hooch to achieve his life-long dream.
"It's always been my dream to own the best Italian restaurant in the earth," Waters reportedly told police. "I'm 10% Italian. Cooking authentic Italian food is in my blood. I had planned to make the restaurant 80 million square feet and able to accommodated (sic) 30 million eaters at once, plus it was gonna be totally underwater so people could look at sharks while they ate."
How awesome does that sound?! An underwater Italian restaurant that seats 30 million people? Top that, Bobby Flay.
Unfortunately, the bank totally rained on his parade and refused to cash the check. Shocker.
"The bank wouldn't give me my money they owed me," Waters said. "Tito said the check was good for any amount I wanted to write it for. So blame Tito, not me. I'm as innocent as a schoolgirl."
The police found both bath salts and Chinese throwing stars on "innocent school girl" Waters when they arrested him for forgery, which we think is the basic starter kit for restaurant entrepreneurs.
This has been another installment of "Crazy Tales From Florida." Join us next week for another. (Because there is always another).
7. Fake human sacrifice filmed at Cern, with pranking scientists suspected
The video, which circulated online, shows several individuals in black cloaks gathering in a main square at Europe’s top physics lab, in what appears to be a re-enactment of an occult ceremony.
The video includes the staged “stabbing” of a woman. It is filmed from the perspective of a secret viewer watching from a window above who, as the ceremony reaches its climax, lets out a string of expletives and flees with the camera still running.
The ceremony appears to have been staged in front of a statue of the Hindu deity Shiva that is on permanent display at the complex, home of the Large Hadron Collider.
“These scenes were filmed on our premises but without official permission or knowledge,” a Cern spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse in an email.
“Cern does not condone this type of spoof, which can give rise to misunderstandings about the scientific nature of our work.”
The “investigation” under way was an “internal matter”, she said.
The video has raised questions about security on Cern’s campus.
Asked to detail the security procedures surrounding access to the campus, the Cern spokeswoman said: “Cern IDs are checked systematically at each entry to the Cern site whether it is night or day.”
She further indicated that those responsible for the prank had access badges.
“Cern welcomes every year thousands of scientific users from all over the world and sometimes some of them let their humour go too far. This is what happened on this occasion,” the email said.
The spokeswoman was not available to comment the possible identity of those responsible.
Geneva police told AFP they had been in contact with Cern about the video but were not involved in an official investigation.
Cern hosts machinery carrying out some of the world’s most elaborate particle research, including an enormously powerful proton smasher trying to find previously undiscovered particles.
8. Scientists says that the discoverer of the Piltdown Man was behind fossils forgery
This new fossil, called Eoanthropus dawsoni - "Dawson's dawn man" - supposedly showed a new evolutionary link between apes and humans.
The remains, with an ape-like jaw and braincase like a modern human, were stained dark reddish-brown like the gravel deposit they were recovered from.
Mr Dawson claimed to have discovered further evidence at a second site, close to the original, prior to his death in August 1916.
Doubts were immediately raised about the authenticity of the find but it took the scientific community 40 years to unveil it as an elaborate hoax.
New research has revealed that the forgeries were created using a limited number of specimens all constructed using a consistent method - suggesting the perpetrator acted alone.
It is highly likely that an orang-utan specimen and at least two human skeletons were used to create the fakes, which are still kept at the Natural History Museum.
The work, which points the finger of suspicion firmly at Mr Dawson, was undertaken by a team led by Liverpool John Moores University and used the latest scientific methods.
Dr Isabelle De Groote, from the university and lead author on the paper which is published in Royal Society Open Science, said the results point to a clear conclusion.
"Although multiple individuals have been accused of producing the fake fossils, our analyses to understand the modus operandi show consistency between all the different specimens and on both sites," she said.
"It is clear from our analysis that this work was likely all carried out by one forger: Charles Dawson."
DNA analysis found that both the canine tooth planted at the first Piltdown site and the molar from the second probably came from one orang-utan.
The shape and form of the molar from the second Piltdown site was almost certainly from the other side of the jawbone planted in the first site.
3D X-ray imaging scans showed that many of the bones and a tooth were filled with Piltdown gravel and the openings plugged with small pebbles.
Holes in the skull bones were filled with dental putty, which was also used to re-set the teeth in the jaw and to reconstruct one of the teeth that fell apart while it was being ground down.
Chris Stringer, human origins expert at the Natural History Museum, said: "Our work shows that a century on, we can add a new chapter to the Piltdown story through new investigative techniques.
"For example we found surprising evidence that the forger had even removed the molars in order to modify them, and had then replaced them in the jawbone."
New genetic and morphological evidence which suggests a single hoaxer created the Piltdown Man is published in Royal Society Open Science.
9. Florida 18-Year-Old Arrested For Allegedly Operating Fake Medical Practice
Malachi A. Love-Robinson is accused of seeing patients at his New Birth New Life Medical Center and Urgent Care in West Palm Beach, where he lists himself as president, CEO and founder, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
The agency said he was investigated by the Florida Department of Health in October and cited for practicing medicine without a license.
The sheriff’s office said an undercover agent visited the clinic on Tuesday and was given a physical exam and medical advice by the would-be Doogie Howser, who posted several pictures of him with his staff on Facebook.
He was arrested and charged with practicing medicine without a license. The Department of Health also issued several citations, the sheriff’s office said.
“I’m hurt because of all of these allegations,” Love-Robinson told WPBF, the local ABC station, as he was led away in handcuffs. “But this is not the first time I have been accused and I will pursue this, and when I do, you will be the first to know.”
His clinic says on its Facebook page that it offers “state of the art medical care with the usage of Naturopathic Medicine and Holistic Services.”
Love-Robinson’s grandfather, William Robinson, told the Sun-Sentinel that it was a misunderstanding. He claimed Love-Robinson was certified to practice holistic medicine by online schools and wasn’t seeing patients himself but hoping to attract other doctors to come work for him.
He told the newspaper:
“He’s not out doing drugs, he’s not out trying to rob nobody. He’s trying to do something constructive, and if he did do something and the paperwork wasn’t right — he can get ahead of himself sometimes and he may have been trying too hard, but he had good intentions.”
However, the Palm Beach Post said Love-Robinson has been accused of faking medical expertise before.
Last year, when he was 17, he was caught allegedly walking around dressed as a doctor at St. Mary’s Medical Center, also in West Palm Beach, for a month. He didn’t see patients or perform treatments, and was not charged, the newspaper reported.
“I requested to shadow physicians — next thing I know, cops are there, that’s all I know, all I know, I have no idea,” Love-Robinson told WPBF.
According to Love-Robinson’s personal Facebook page, he claims to have certificates from the American Alternative Medical Association and the American Association of Drugless Physicians, both of which are dated Oct. 5, 2015.