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Scams, Schemes & Scoundrels: James Randi Vs Con Men MP4 Download DVD

Scams, Schemes & Scoundrels: James Randi Vs Con Men MP4 Download DVD
Scams, Schemes & Scoundrels: James Randi Vs Con Men MP4 Download DVD
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Professional Skeptic And Debunker James Randi Exposes The World's Greatest Con Men: Victor Lustig, Known As "King Con" And "The Man Who Sold The Eiffel Tower Twice"; Albert Abrams, Inventor Of Deadly Quack Medical Devices; Han van Meegeren, Forger Of Vermeer Paintings And Perpetrator Of The Greatest Art Scam In History; Soapy Smith, Grand Confidence Trickster And Gangster Of The American Frontier; And Honorable Media Hoaxster Joey Skaggs, An Originator Of Culture Jamming (A Protest That Disrupts And Subverts Media Culture To Expose Its Methods Of Dominating Mass Society) -- Presented In The Highest DVD Quality MPG Video Format Of 9.1 MBPS As An MP4 Video Download Or Archival Quality All Regions Format DVD! (Color, 1996, 1 Hour 37 Minutes.)

A Confidence Trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust. Confidence tricks exploit victims using a combination of the victim's credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, confidence, irresponsibility, and greed. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men') at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". Synonyms include con, confidence game, confidence scheme, ripoff, scam, and stratagem. The perpetrator of a confidence trick (or "con trick") is often referred to as a confidence (or "con") man, con artist, or a "grifter". The shell game dates back at least to Ancient Greece. William Thompson (1821–1856) was the original "confidence man". Thompson was a clumsy swindler who asked his victims to express confidence in him by giving him money or their watch rather than gaining their confidence in a more nuanced way. A few people trusted Thompson with their money and watches. Thompson was arrested in July 1849. Reporting about this arrest, James Houston, a reporter for the New York Herald, publicized Thompson by naming him the "Confidence Man". Although Thompson was an unsuccessful scammer, he gained the reputation as a genius operator mostly because Houston's satirical tone was not understood as such. The National Police Gazette coined the term "confidence game" a few weeks after Houston first used the name "confidence man". A confidence trick is also known as a con game, a finesse, a con, a scam, a grift, a hustle, a bunko (or bunco), a swindle, a flimflam, a gaffle, or a bamboozle. The intended victims are known as marks, suckers, stooges, mugs, rubes, or gulls (from the word gullible). When accomplices are employed, they are known as shills.

Victor Lustig (January 4, 1890 – March 11, 1947) was a highly skilled con artist from Austria-Hungary, who undertook a criminal career that involved conducting scams across Europe and the United States during the early 20th century. Lustig is widely regarded as one of the most notorious con artists of his time, and is infamous for being "the man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice" and for conducting the "Rumanian Box" scam. In 1925, Lustig traveled back to France. While staying in Paris, he chanced upon a newspaper article discussing the problems faced with maintaining the Eiffel Tower, which gave him inspiration for a new con. At the time, the monument had begun to fall into disrepair, and the city was finding it increasingly expensive to maintain and repaint it. Part of the article made a passing comment that overall public opinion on the monument would move towards calls for its removal, which was the key to convincing Lustig that using it as part of his next con would be lucrative. After researching what he needed to help him utilize the information from the article, Lustig set to work preparing the scam, which included hiring a forger to produce fake government stationery for him. Once he was ready, Lustig invited a small group of scrap metal dealers to a confidential meeting at an expensive hotel, whereupon he identified himself to them as the Deputy Director-General of the Ministère de Postes et Télégraphes (Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs). In the meeting, he convinced the men that the upkeep of the Eiffel Tower was becoming too much for Paris and that the French government wished to sell it for scrap, but that because such a deal would be controversial and likely spark public outcry, nothing could be disclosed until all the details were thought out. Lustig revealed that he was in charge of selecting the dealer who would receive ownership of the structure, claiming that the group had been selected carefully because of their reputations as "honest businessmen". His speech included genuine insight about the monument's place in the city and how it did not fit in with the city's other great monuments like the Gothic cathedrals or the Arc de Triomphe. During his time with the dealers, Lustig kept watch on who would be the most likely to fall for his scam and found his mark in André Poisson—an insecure man who wished to rise up amongst the inner circles of the Parisian business community. As Poisson showed the keenest interest in purchasing the monument, Lustig decided to focus on him once the dealers sent their bids to him. Arranging a private meeting with Poisson, Lustig convinced him that he was a corrupt official, claiming that his government position did not give him a generous salary for the lifestyle he wished to enjoy. Believing the sale of the Eiffel Tower would secure him a place amongst the top businessmen, Poisson agreed to pay a large bribe to secure ownership of the Eiffel Tower. However, once Lustig received his bribe and the funds for the monument's "sale" (around 70,000 francs), he soon fled to Austria. Lustig suspected that when Poisson found out he had been conned, he would be too ashamed and embarrassed to inform the French police of what he had been caught up in, yet despite this belief, he maintained a check on newspapers while in Austria. His suspicions soon proved to be correct when he could find no reference of his con within their pages, and thus he decided to return to Paris later that year to pull off the scheme once more. However, when Lustig attempted to con another group of dealers and had managed to find a mark among them willing to buy the Eiffel Tower, the police were informed about the scam and he fled to the U.S. to evade arrest. One of Lustig's most notable scams involved selling unsuspecting marks a box that he claimed was a machine that could duplicate any currency bills that were inserted into it, with the only catch being that the device needed six hours to print an identical copy. Referred to as the "money box" or "Rumanian Box", the scam involved a specially designed mahogany box, roughly the size of a steamer trunk. The box's design featured two small slots designed to take in bills and the paper to "print" the duplicate on, and a compartment containing a false arrangement of levers and mechanisms that had to be "operated" to make the duplicates. In order to convince the mark it truly worked, Lustig would ask them to give him a specific denomination of bill (e.g. $100), insert it into his device along with the paper, and then wait with them until the duplicate was made. When it had, Lustig would take the mark with him to a bank to authenticate the note. In reality, Lustig had concealed a genuine note within the device; the choice of the denomination was influenced by what he put into the box beforehand. Once the mark was convinced, Lustig would refuse to sell them the box until they offered him a high price for it. Before it was sold, Lustig would pack the box with additional genuine notes, to buy him time to make a clean escape, before his mark realized they had been conned. One of Lustig's most infamous uses of the device was upon a Texas sheriff, whom he convinced to buy it for thousands of dollars. Upon realizing he had been tricked, the sheriff pursued Lustig to Chicago. Upon meeting him again, the sheriff was conned into believing that he was not operating the device correctly, and was handed a large sum of cash as compensation, unaware that the money was counterfeit. This counterfeiting would eventually lead to Lustig's arrest by American law enforcement officers.

Albert Abrams (December 8, 1863 – January 13, 1924) was a fraudulent American physician, well known during his life for inventing machines, such as the "Oscilloclast" and the "Radioclast", which he falsely claimed could diagnose and cure almost any disease. These claims were challenged from the outset. Towards the end of his life, and again shortly after his death, many of his machines and conclusions were demonstrated to be intentionally deceptive or false. His "Dynomizer" looked something like a radio, and Abrams claimed it could diagnose any known disease from a single drop of blood or alternatively the subject's handwriting. He performed diagnoses on dried blood samples sent to him on pieces of paper in envelopes through the mail. Apparently Abrams even claimed he could conduct medical practice over the telephone with his machines, and that he could determine personality characteristics. The Dynomizer was big business; by 1918, courses in spondylotherapy and ERA cost $200 (about the same purchasing power as $3,150 in 2014); equipment was leased at about $200 with a monthly $5 charge thereafter. The lessee had to sign a contract stating the device would never be opened. Abrams explained that this would disrupt their delicate adjustment, but the rule also served to prevent the Abrams devices from being examined. He then widened his claims to treating the diagnosed diseases. Abrams came up with new and even more impressive gadgets, the "Oscilloclast" and the "Radioclast", which came with tables of frequencies that were designed to "attack" specific diseases. Clients were told cures required repeated treatments. Dynomizer operators tended to give alarming diagnoses, involving combinations of such maladies as cancer, diabetes and syphilis. Abrams often included a disease called "bovine syphilis", unknown to other medical practitioners. He claimed the Oscilloclast was capable of defeating most of these diseases, most of the time. By 1921, there were claimed to be 3,500 practitioners using ERA technology. Conventional medical practitioners were extremely suspicious. When people opened Abrams's boxes, they found "simple wiring, a few resistors, a small motor that only made a humming noise, and nothing that could in any way perform a diagnosis or 'broadcast' or even produce radio waves."

Han van Meegeren (Henricus Antonius van Meegeren (October 10, 1889 – December 30, 1947) was a Dutch painter and portraitist, considered one of the most ingenious art forgers of the 20th century. Van Meegeren became a national hero after World War II when it was revealed that he had sold a forged painting to Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Van Meegeren attempted to make a career as an artist, but art critics dismissed his work. He decided to prove his talent by forging paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Leading experts of the time accepted his paintings as genuine 17th century works, including Dr Abraham Bredius. During World War II, Göring purchased one of Meegeren's "Vermeers", which became one of his most prized possessions. Following the war, Van Meegeren was arrested on a charge of selling cultural property to the Nazis. Facing a possible death penalty, Van Meegeren confessed the painting was a forgery. He was convicted on 12 November 1947, and sentenced to one year in prison. However; he died on December 30, 1947 after two heart attacks. A biography in 1967 estimated that Van Meegeren duped buyers out of more than US$30 million; his victims included the government of the Netherlands.

Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith II (November 2, 1860 – July 8, 1898) was an American con artist and gangster in the American frontier. Smith operated confidence schemes across the Western United States, and had a large hand in organized criminal operations in both Colorado and the District of Alaska. Smith gained notoriety through his "prize soap racket," in which he would sell bars of soap with prize money hidden in some of the bars' packaging in order to increase sales. However, through sleight of hand, he would ensure that only members of his gang purchased "prize" soap. The racket led to his sobriquet of "Soapy." The success of his soap racket and other scams helped him finance three successive criminal empires in Denver and Creede, both in Colorado, and in Skagway, Alaska. He was killed in the shootout on Juneau Wharf in Skagway, on July 8, 1898.

Joey Skaggs (born 1945) is an American prankster who has organized numerous successful media pranks, hoaxes, and other presentations. Skaggs is one of the originators of the phenomenon known as culture jamming. Skaggs has used Kim Yung Soo, Joe Bones, Joseph Bonuso, Giuseppe Scaggioli, Dr. Joseph Gregor, and the Rev. Anthony Joseph as aliases. In his youth, Skaggs studied at the High School of Art and Design and received a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Between 1966 and 1969, Skaggs organized crucifixion performances on Easter Sundays. In 1968, Skaggs noticed that middle-class suburbanites were going on tours of the East Village to observe hippies. Skaggs subsequently organized a sightseeing tour for hippies to observe the suburbs of Queens. On Christmas Day, he created the Vietnamese Christmas Nativity Burning to protest against the Vietnam War. In 1969, Skaggs tied a 50-foot bra to the front of the U.S. Treasury building on Wall Street in protest against Francine Gottfried's street harassment, organized a Hells Angels' wedding procession through the Lower East Side, and made a grotesque Statue of Liberty on July 4, again to protest against the Vietnam War. In 1971, Skaggs bought Earlville Opera House, which is now a thriving performance and exhibition center. In the same year, he organized what he called a Fame Exchange during the New York Avant Garde Festival, where he hired a group of admirers to follow him around instead of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was a forerunner for his next pranks. According to his web site, Skaggs does not care for "vicious" pranks such as letters containing fake anthrax; he also states that he is not doing anything illegal. He uses volunteer actors to play his customers, refusing to really scam anyone except the media. Often the prank is launched with nothing more than a press release with a phone number; in these press releases, Skaggs leaves hints or details that easily could be checked for accuracy. Eventually, he reveals the hoax to make his point. On some occasions, Skaggs has sent a substitute to interviews with programs such as Entertainment Tonight and To Tell the Truth. Producers did not notice. Also, photographs in the National Enquirer and Playback have depicted the wrong man. Many of Skaggs's pranks are originally reported as true in various news media. Sometimes the stories are retracted. When not pranking the media, Skaggs earns his living by painting, making sculptures and lecturing. In a 2015 interview, Skaggs revealed that he has a hoax that is "out there" that no one has discovered yet. After the interview, Chinese news agency SinoVision promptly fell for his then 30-year-old annual New York City April Fools' Day parade hoax and ran a four-minute segment in English on the non-event. His pranks include: Cathouse for Dogs (1976): Skaggs published an ad for a dog brothel in The Village Voice and hired actors to present their dogs for the benefit of an ABC News crew. The prank annoyed the ASPCA and the Bureau of Animal Affairs until Skaggs revealed the truth after a subpoena. ABC did not retract the story (the WABC TV producer insisted that Skaggs had said it was a hoax to avoid prosecution), possibly because the piece won an Emmy Award; Celebrity Sperm Bank (1976): Skaggs organized a sperm bank auction in New York; the sperm bank was then robbed and semen was supposedly taken hostage; Wall Street Shoeshine (1979): Skaggs played Joseph Bucks, a shoeshine man who had become rich on Wall Street and was working his last day - at $5 a shine; Metamorphosis (1981): Skaggs played Dr. Gregor, inventor of the Cockroach Vitamin Pill, which was supposed to be a cure-all drug. It was a nod to Franz Kafka's story "The Metamorphosis"; Gypsies Against Stereotypical Propaganda (1982): Gypsy King JoJo (played by Skaggs) led a protest demanding that the Gypsy moth's name be changed because it was demeaning to his people; Windsurfing from Hawaii to California (1983): Windsurfer J.J. Skaggs attempted the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean on a sailboard; Fish Condos (1983): Skaggs created an aquarium depicting rooms with furniture. It was meant to satirize gentrification, but the aquariums sold very well; Bad Guys Talent Management Agency (1984): In an attempt to get an acting job for a friend, Verne Williams, Skaggs founded a fictitious management agency for "bad-guy" actors. Eventually even real studios and wannabe actors contacted him; WALK RIGHT! (1984): Skaggs put together a fictitious militant group that wanted to enforce proper street walking etiquette and make its rules into law; The Fat Squad (1986): Skaggs played Joe Bones, the founder of a disciplinarian diet program where musclemen watched the customers 24 hours a day to make sure they stuck to their diets, at a cost of $300 a day; The Annual April Fools' Day Parade, which exists only as press release and is announced and promoted every year; Save the Geoduck Campaign (1987): Skaggs played Dr. Richard J. Long who sought to save geoduck mollusks from extinction because they had become a popular aphrodisiac among the Japanese; Comacocoon (1990): As Dr. Joseph Schlafer, Skaggs offered a literal dream vacation—customers were to sleep in a cocoon, enjoying programmed dreams about the vacation. The Department of Consumer Affairs was alerted; Hair Today, Ltd. (1990): Joseph Chenango—another Skaggs character—marketed a new kind of hair implant: whole scalps from the dead. The prank began as an ad in the Village Voice soliciting scalp donors; Geraldo Hoax (1991): Skaggs appeared on Geraldo Rivera's TV talk show and told a story about New York artists living in water towers - which he had not done; Brooklyn Bridge Lottery (1992): Skaggs released a "leak" informing the public of a lottery where the first prize would be renaming rights to the Brooklyn Bridge; Portofess (1992): Skaggs played Father Anthony Joseph, appearing with a portable confession booth at the Democratic National Convention; Sex Tapes Saved Marriage (1993): Skaggs sent two actors to Faith Daniels' show to claim that sex tapes had saved their marriage; SEXONIX (1993): Skaggs created a hoax about a sex machine, claiming that the prototype had been seized by Canada Customs at the Canada–US border on its way from the United States. He used his own name. Uproar ensued in various bulletin boards; The Psychic Attorney (1994): On April 1, Skaggs appeared as Maqdananda, a combined New Age telephone psychic and lawyer. His voice mail box was flooded with calls; Dog Meat Soup (1994): Skaggs portrayed Kim Yung Soo, an entrepreneur who wanted to purchase unwanted dogs for human consumption. His purpose was to bring to light issues of cultural bias, intolerance and racism, as well as to demonstrate the media's tendency to be reactionary, gullible and irresponsible; Baba Wa Simba (1995): Skaggs appeared in London as Baba Wa Simba, a therapist who recommended that participants roar and behave like lions (reminiscent of primal scream therapy); The Solomon Project (1995): Joseph Bonuso (Skaggs) claimed to have created a computer program that would work as both judge and jury and announce sentences. It pronounced O. J. Simpson guilty; STOP BioPEEP (1998): Skaggs appeared as Dr. Joseph Howard, supposed employee of an Australian company, and revealed surreptitious genetic engineering with poultry to create addictive commercial products; Doody Rudy (1999): Skaggs created a large satirical portrait of New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and let people throw fake elephant dung at it, in response to Giuliani's criticism of an artwork by Chris Ofili that incorporated real elephant dung; The Final Curtain (2000): Skaggs' creation was a combined funeral company, virtual graveyard and theme park. It was meant to satirize showmanship in places like Forest Lawn cemeteries. Some investors were actually interested. Final Curtain's website is still functioning; Art Attack (2002): Espai D'Art Contemporani (EACC) in Castellon, Spain asked Skaggs to organize a presentation; in response, Skaggs created a computer game where people could shoot passersby walking past the building in the outside corridor; Bush! (2004): Dressed as Uncle Sam and flanked by cheerleaders, flag bearers, Cabinet members, the Saudi Royal Family and Secret Service operatives, Skaggs pedaled a large replica of the White House, with then-President George W. Bush inside on the toilet, into Washington Square Park on Independence Day; Bullshit Detector Watch (2006): Skaggs created a satirical product, a watch that flashes, moos and poops. It also tells time; Art of the Prank blog (2007): Skaggs launched a blog covering news, insights, and discussions on everything to do with unsanctioned art, pranks, hoaxes, culture jamming and reality hacking; Mobile Homeless Homes (2012): Pedaling his Mobile Homeless Home, a shelter made from connected garbage cans, Skaggs led a group of angry muppets through the streets of New York to bring their outrage against greedy financial institutions and failed government oversight to the public; Santa's Missile Tow (2012): Skaggs as Santa Claus, armed with a mobile rocket launcher mounted on the back of a tricycle, targeted the United Nations and Times Square with a sign proclaiming "World Peace or Else!". He was accompanied by an army of elves handing out toy soldiers to passersby; Bigfoot & The Tiny Top Circus (2014): Bigfoot, the world's most illusive and terrifying creature, was captured and put on display by the Tiny Top Circus in New York City's Washington Square Park. The creature (Joey Skaggs dressed literally as a big foot) made a daring escape and disappeared into the West Fourth Street subway station; Trump's Golden Throne (2017): For New York City's 32nd annual April Fools' Day Parade, after 31 years promoting a parade that didn't exist, Joey Skaggs orchestrated a real one. He held a Trumpathon, the world's largest gathering of Trump look-alikes, and together they paraded a golden outhouse, featuring President Donald Trump tweeting on his phone as he sat on his throne, to Trump Tower on 5th Avenue; and Trump's Military Parade (2018): Joey Skaggs' 33rd Annual April Fools' Day Parade featured a mockery of Trump's proposed Military Parade, with Donald Trump look-alikes carrying an arsenal of toy weapons. They were joined by North Korean "Rocket Man" Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin look-alikes as they marched down Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower.

Culture Jamming (sometimes also Guerrilla Communication) is a form of protest used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. It attempts to "expose the methods of domination" of mass society. Culture jamming employs techniques originally associated with Letterist International, and later Situationist International known as detournement. It uses the language and rhetoric of mainstream culture to subversively critique the social institutions that produce that culture. Tactics include editing company logos to critique the respective companies, products, or concepts they represent, or wearing fashion statements that criticize the current fashion trends by deliberately clashing with them. Culture jamming often entails using mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, commonly using the original medium's communication method. Culture jamming is also a form of subvertising. Culture jamming is intended to expose questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture, and can be considered a reaction against politically imposed social conformity. Prominent examples of culture jamming include the adulteration of billboard advertising by the Billboard Liberation Front and contemporary artists such as Ron English. Culture jamming may involve street parties and protests. While culture jamming usually focuses on subverting or critiquing political and advertising messages, some proponents focus on a different form which brings together artists, designers, scholars, and activists to create works that transcend the status quo rather than merely criticize it.

James Randi (born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge) (August 7, 1928 – October 20, 2020), stage name "The Amazing Randi", was a Canadian-American stage magician, author and scientific skeptic who extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. He was the co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Randi began his career as a magician under the stage name The Amazing Randi and later chose to devote most of his time to investigating paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims. Randi retired from practicing magic at age 60, and from his foundation at 87. Although often referred to as a "debunker", Randi said he disliked the term's connotations and preferred to describe himself as an "investigator". He wrote about paranormal phenomena, skepticism, and the history of magic. He was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, famously exposing fraudulent faith healer Peter Popoff, and was occasionally featured on the television program Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Before Randi's retirement, JREF sponsored the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, which offered a prize of one million US dollars to eligible applicants who could demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event under test conditions agreed to by both parties.