|Sex Files | Swindles & Scams||Aug 19 2015|
Perhaps you haven’t been following the story, but the marital infidelity website Ashley Madison suffered a security breach in July by a hacktivist group called Impact Team in which all its account records were stolen. At first Ashley Madison’s parent corporation Avid Life Media tried to claim its data remained secure, but it later emerged that Ashley Madison’s client database was completely compromised. For the uninitiated, Ashley Madison hooks up marrieds who want to have affairs, and while most sensible people would think that's a terrible idea, the site had generated millions of clients. Impact Team demanded the site be shut down or all the user records would be published, and yesterday the group made good on that threat and posted 9.7 gigs of records from as many as 32 million users in 46 countries.
|Swindles & Scams||May 10 2015|
There’s nothing quite like the unregulated internet. We were wandering around Ebay—our favorite conduit for buying vintage magazines—when we spied this postcard of Swedish actress Christina Lindberg performing a dance number in a Japanese nightclub circa 1973. It’s a very nice image, and it’s available for $13.00 plus shipping, which can be considered exorbitant or a bargain, depending on your feelings about this type of material in general and Ms. Lindberg in particular. Problem is, it’s an image from Sangre Yakuza, a long running Japanophile blog. The shot was posted there a couple of years ago and you can click over and snag it for free right now. Doubtless the Ebay seller saw the scan and figured, "What the fuck? An image like that might sell as a postcard." And it will—when we last checked there were three prospective buyers watching the auction.
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time we’ve noticed this happening with Lindberg. A few years ago we found one of our own scans for sale on Ebay. We wrote about that here. We can’t really blame these sellers for trying such a maneuver, but it just goes to show that you have to be careful what you’re paying for on Ebay because the company itself doesn’t police these practices. In fact, under Ebay guidelines the seller isn’t breaking any rules—he would be if he tried to sell the image as an original photo, but a postcard is by definition a reprint. It doesn’t really matter where it was reprinted from. Still, though, it’s a bit scammy considering he took it from a publicly available webpage and probably printed the postcards on his HP Deskjet. Anyway, we’ve posted the shot below, without the obnoxious watermark, along with the cover page of the magazine feature in which it appears. As a public service.
|Swindles & Scams||Jan 30 2014|
At Pulp Intl. we have an entire category labeled “swindles and scams,” and we think this qualifies. It all started when a cash card we rely upon stopped working a few days before Christmas. Terrible timing, of course. Gifts to buy, revelry to enjoy. But the screen of the cash machine read in glowing green letters: Transaction not possible. An immediate call to Bank of America revealed that they had cancelled the card. Why? Because a new one had been sent. But that made no sense—nothing had arrived in the mail. We asked, baffled, “So you cancelled the card without permission, even though it hasn’t expired and a new one hasn’t been activated?”
There is one positive to all this: having been treated as if we don’t exist by the bank, we at least have the option of telling tens of thousands of Pulp Intl. visitors what happened. Does it matter in the end? Doubtful. Does the bank care? Certainly not. But at least we can add another anecdote to the growing tome of horror stories about Bank of America. And sharing our story here feels better than merely passing bad word of mouth to a few buddies at the bar. So thanks for listening. Now we can get back to your regularly scheduled pulp with all that off our minds.
|Swindles & Scams||May 5 2013|
One of the most reclusive writers in the world has been forced to step into the public eye because of what she claims was a carefully orchestrated swindle. Harper Lee, author of the American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, filed suit in a Manhattan court against a man she says stole rights to her book. Lee’s lawsuit details how Samuel Pinkus, the son-in-law of her longtime agent Eugene Winick, tricked Lee into transferring the copyright on her 1960 masterpiece. In 2002 Eugene Winick was ill and Pinkus began folding some of his father-in-law’s clients into his own literary agency. In 2007 Pinkus took advantage of Lee’s failing eyesight and hearing to transfer Lee’s rights to himself, assuming irrevocable interest in the income derived from To Kill A Mockingbird, and offering no payment to the author. Lee signed the crucial papers when she was recuperating from a stroke. In 2012 she took legal action and regained the copyright, but Pinkus still derives income from sales of the book though he is no longer Lee’s agent. The lawsuit says Lee has no memory of agreeing to anything, and frankly, any neutral observer would find it hard to disbelieve her.
Since this is a website, not a court, we’ll just say what other stories about this haven’t yet—Samuel Pinkus thought Harper Lee was going to die and stole her book. With Lee dead, and very little likelihood such a private individual would have discussed the matter with anyone, there would have been nobody to dispute his ownership of a revered, Pulitzer Prize-winning gold mine. When she recovered and realized what had happened, Pinkus scrambled to give the copyright back but had arranged to keep raking money off the top in perpetuity—his backup plan. Pinkus, naturally, has had no comment on the lawsuit, and presumably won’t until the Manhattan court has to decide whether his scam will stand. In this age of trillion dollar bank swindles, naked buy-offs of elected officials, and rampant court corruption, we don’t have high hopes for Ms. Lee. In fact, we suspect that in the aforementioned circles Samuel Pinkus is being hailed as a genius.
|Mondo Bizarro | Swindles & Scams||Apr 8 2013|
Upcoming on Sunday is the eightieth anniversary of the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness monster, which occurred April 14, 1933 when a couple claimed to have seen what they described as an enormous animal in the loch. In honor of the occasion, yesterday at the Edinburgh International Science Festival in Scotland, Nessie scholars held a symposium debating the creature’s existence. The photo above, shot by Robert Wilson on April 19, 1934, remains arguably the most famous Nessie image, and for years was touted as proof something large lived in the loch, until 1984 when the British Journal of Photography published an analysis by Stewart Campbell concluding that the object in the water measured three feet—not nearly long enough to be the famed Nessie. Years later, a big game hunter named Marmaduke Wetherell, who you see here, was fingered as the brain behind an elaborate hoax resulting in the photo. But true believers have disputed the account.
Subsequent sightings and photos have all been inconclusive, which means of course that nothing was decided at the Edinburgh symposium. Those who believe in the creature have no hard evidence to prove their position, and those who disbelieve can’t prove it doesn’t exist. The latter isn’t a surprise, as it’s logically impossible to prove anything doesn’t exist, whether monsters and deities, Kang and Kodos of Rigel IV, or the chair you're sitting on right now. Doubtless those involved in the symposium knew that, which means the event was probably just a good excuse to shoot the shit for an afternoon then adjourn to the raucous Edinburgh bars. From there it’s just a few pints until someone drops his pants and screeches, “Watch out! The monster is out of the loch!” So be forewarned—the next Nessie photo you see will probably be someone’s pale cock, and if photo analysis proves it’s three feet long that’ll be one proud scientist.
|Swindles & Scams||Nov 22 2012|
If you live in the U.S, today you’re probably celebrating Thanksgiving, maybe watching some football. But people where we live don’t know from Thanksgiving, so with nothing else to do today we decided to go back through some of the old posts on the website to make sure all the external links were still working. Interestingly, we noticed that the first two dead links cycled around for a few moments, then sent us to functioning pages that had nothing to do with the original articles. For instance, a link in our post on Lee Harvey Oswald’s coffin sent us to the front page of The Huffington Post. Is having dead links on your website now the equivalent of leaving your sunglasses in a restaurant? They’re okay to steal because they’ve been temporarily forgotten? Well, not in our universe. In the next couple of days we’re going to ferret out all the dead links on Pulp Intl. and redirect them to relevant content. We’d be surprised if there are even half a dozen, but we’ll fix them
|Mondo Bizarro | Swindles & Scams||Aug 10 2012|
You can add Norway to the list of countries with a mysterious sea serpent. Or not. Last week Andreas Solvik and two friends were in a small boat on Lake Hornindalsvatnet in the southwestern part of country when they saw a disturbance on the water. Solvik snapped the photo you see above. We’ve taken a good look it and we gotta say, what we think Solvik saw was a disturbance in his bank account and he cooked up a hoax to make a few kroner on the side. Lake Hornindalsvatnet actually does have a legend about a kjempeorm, or monster, associated with it, and because it’s the deepest lake in Europe, there’s a feeling among some locals that a monster might be able to survive uncaptured, but only among laymen. When a local scientist was asked for his take, he theorized that because the area has an extensive logging industry, what Solvik photographed and what people have seen for many years are probably either logs, or masses of sawdust that sat on the lakeshore for a while collecting algae before finally floating into deeper water. That's an interesting theory, but we don’t think Andreas Solvik photographed something that turned out to be wood. We think he Photoshopped something that he hoped would turn into money. Check below and see what you think.
|Swindles & Scams||Aug 26 2010|
Australian film star Paul Hogan, who charmed the cinema world twenty-four years ago playing Mick “Crocodile” Dundee, was in his native Australia for his mother’s funeral this week when he received another piece of bad news. Australian tax authorities had issued an order preventing the grieving star from leaving the country until he settles a bill for outstanding taxes. According to their records—and as we all know, the tax office’s records are the only ones that matter—Hogan owes on a whopping $38 million. Seems he relocated to Los Angeles shortly after his film franchise took off and never bothered to pay taxes in his native country. Authorities say he squirreled his cash away in offshore bank accounts. The exact amount they are demanding hasn’t been disclosed, but it’s safe to say this is going to be the biggest croc Hogan ever wrestled.
|Swindles & Scams | Sportswire||Aug 20 2010|
How much cash do they claim was made on this scam? Two million dollars. That’s a 2 with six zeros after it. If true, this is sad on two levels: first, that a former NBA player who probably had a thousand other opportunities went this route; and second, that jobseekers who were being crushed by a recession had no choice but to feed on the corpses of people who had already been crushed before them. Vincent has had no comment thus far, but his attorney has described the former basketballer as a “legitimate businessman engaged in legal activities”, which we think is like claiming to be a “legitimate cigarette marketing executive”, or a “legitimate geologist for a mining company that blows the tops off pristine Appalachian hills and dumps them in valleys, destroying wildlife and contaminating groundwater”. In other words, “legal” isn’t a synonym for moral—at least not in our book. But unfortunately, we didn’t write the book everyone else is playing by—Wall Street did. And it seems as if Vincent may have memorized it chapter and verse.
|Swindles & Scams||May 26 2010|
Sanchez’s arrest is yet another embarrassment for Mexico, however, it’s also a blow for the U.S., which pretends—publicly at least—that the American demand for drugs is not the true driver of Mexico’s cartel troubles. Often, Mexican politicians will point out this dark symbiosis, but in this instance officials south of the border have so far been circumspect. Current Quintana Roo governor Felix Gonzalez Cantu said only that, “This takes us all by surprise—it is unprecedented.”