Best scam ever?

There are a lot of nasty bad evil scammers out there, more than happy to take money of desperate vulnerable people. This is of course A Bad Thing. However now and then one comes along with such a incredulous, and perhaps even genius, scam that you have to admire them for their sheer boldness if nothing else.

The Poorhouse's favourite scam along these lines in recent times was that that Stacey and Brent Finley pulled to great success - $US 989,898 no less.

Brent had a little chat with his friends and family regarding his wife's job. Obviously it was all a bit secret, but he felt he could trust them enough to impart that his wife, Stacey, was actually a secret government agent for the CIA.

So far so good. Better yet, Stacey had some mega-important contacts within the agency; the sort of people who control black-ops-esque satellites. And not just any satellites, but specifically the sort of satellites that could fire medical scan beams from outer space and use their imaging technology to diagnose all sorts of serious hidden health problems. These of course are the sort of medical complaints that no conventional medical test could detect.

And that's not even the best bit. Should such problems be discovered, well, you'd want them fixed right? Not a problem. Stacey's friendly CIA-agent colleagues would sort you out on that front by entering your home and administering secret medicines - for a (large) fee of course. One might think this scam had an obvious downside in that it would be quite an effort in some ways to actually get CIA agents in to administer "secret" medicines, no matter how fake. But the Finley's had this aspect covered too.

Of course the agents' activities were so secret that they would only enter your house to fix you when you were asleep. You wouldn't see or feel anything but the morning (and a few thousand $$) after you'd be fixed from your space-satellite detected medical problems. Phew.

Who would buy that story at the price of their life-savings? Well, who wouldn't seems the more shocking question. The Finleys managed to run this scam on 22 people, described as "solid, middle-class, educated citizens" by prosecutors.

Yep, unfortunately prosecutors did get involved. Can you believe that one of the scam-victims became a little suspicious about the whole thing, presumably after they paid out for it. They told a local cop who investigated the whole thing and, amazingly, it turned out that Stacey wasn't even a member of the CIA let alone a co-ordinator for space satellite / secret agent cures in your sleep.

The Finleys were taken to court and found guilty, with a tariff of $873,786.94 and 114 months in prison to serve between them. The Poorhouse feels this is yet another case of workable scams being ruined by the perpetrator's greed - why not stop at a mere $500,000 profit? - but it does give reassurance that no matter what ridiculously unlikely scam you might dream up there is a serious chance of people buying into it. Genius.

(Illustrating pic TWOC from ABC News)


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