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by Ian Fortey
No one likes being scammed -- it's like a magic trick, except the big reveal is that you're now broke, and somebody punched your kids in the face. But there is something to be said for a clever scammer who pulls off something kind of hilarious and awe-inspiring, yet nobody's grandma had to lose her life savings in the process. Still, we have to admit, we feel a little guilty when we giggle over ones like ...
The Man Who Became UPS
Have you ever had to go to the post office to change your address? It's a pretty simple process: if you're moving, you just let them know to send your mail somewhere else until everyone has your new address. You just have to fill out a form -- or if you're super lazy, you can do it all online.
It's actually kind of frightening how easy it is, considering they're basically just taking your word for it. What happens if you do that to someone else's address? If you change Santa Claus's address to Climax, Iowa, is Christmas just canceled that year? Well, Dushaun Henderson-Spruce did exactly that. Except the address he changed wasn't Santa's ... it was for UPS. Like, the whole UPS corporation.
Normally headquartered in Atlanta, Henderson-Spruce changed the company's address to his apartment in Chicago, and for some stupid reason, the United States Postal Service was totally cool with that. They started delivering all mail -- thousands and thousands of letters that were meant for UPS -- to this guy's place. It was so much mail that they had to leave it in boxes outside his door. And it went on for months, from October 2016 through January 2017.
"Wait a minute ... that guy isn't UPS at all!"
The mail Henderson-Spruce was getting included things like checks, which he opened and cashed, because most criminals are exactly that stupid. He managed to take in $58,000 by the time he was caught, and we can assume that was because someone in the actual UPS mailroom had done literally nothing for months and finally thought to ask why.
The Boston Woman Who Manipulated City Hall To Get A Personal Parking Spot
Parking in big cities sucks more than a vacuum being tossed into a blackhole full of Ed Sheeran. For every parking space on a given street there seem to be about 100 cars, and when you do find a spot, it probably costs you an arm and a leg. Like in the literal sense, you need to trade in human body parts in order to park in a city like Boston, where people have literally paid $560,000 for a pair of spots that were auctioned off. Ones that don't even grant wishes.
Lisa Saunders, whose family owned the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, really wanted a parking space in front of the Plaza offices where she worked. But they don't just have spots on streets that you can call your own -- this isn't the Wild West, where you can just hitch your horse to any old post. If you want a permanent, prime spot like that, you have to be a little crafty and a lot entitled.
You know you're a piece of crap when your entitlement makes the news.
Saunders had a friend who did consulting work with the city, so she got that friend to go down to the city hall and perform some parking spot magic on her behalf. It worked like this: There are a limited number of valet spots in the city and, as it happened, an out-of-business restaurant downtown had a valet spot still assigned to them. So the consultant just swapped the valet spot at the restaurant with a normal spot in front of the Plaza offices.
Valet spots are supposed to be short term parking and tend to only be at restaurants and hotels. This spot was sort of in the middle of nowhere, and Saunders began to use it for her personal parking. She never got towed and no one else would ever park there because of the kind of spot it was. It was the perfect plan to scam free parking in a prime location, right up until some nosy reporter (and maybe his talking dog?) got involved and blew the whistle on the whole scheme. The city revoked the valet space and presumably Saunders now has to park in some toilet across town.
The Trump Shirt That Changed When it Got Warm
You may be surprised to learn that we live in a politically divisive time. Gasp! There are some people out there who love Donald Trump and some who are not entirely sweet on the idea of him, even as a general concept. Back in 2016, a number of those people (let's call them "Trump Unenthusiasts") were pretty upset because of some comments he had made about Mexico and its citizens.
Instead of flipping out and lashing back, one company thought, "How do we turn that situation into a profitable idea?" Mexican craft brewery Cucapá decided to exploit the fact that some people did in fact support Trump, so they started selling pro-Trump t-shirts in L.A. So far so *shrug* ... lots of people sold pro-Trump T-shirts. But why a Mexican craft brewery?
The sneaky folks at Cucapá designed shirts that change when they get warm. So you buy a pro-Trump shirt that says "I support Donald" but after you wear it and get it all toasty hot with your Trump love, the picture of Trump turns into a clown with a red nose and the phrase "Donald el que lo lea," pops up. The phrase's literal translation is "anyone who reads this is Donald," which doesn't make a ton of sense to people who don't speak Spanish, but it's actually a play on a childish, Mexican insult. Consider it on par with "anassholesayswhat?" or "if you can read this, you're a dingus." It insults you by virtue of just noticing it.
No word on if the shirt made farting noises, but we assume that it did.
The end game for the brewery was as ingenious as their plot to dupe the people who bought the shirts: they were just raising the money to have a party and get smashed. It was a direct response to Trump saying that Mexico was going to pay for the wall. The way they saw it, if Mexico was going to pay for the wall, Trump supporters were going to pay for their beer.
The Crappy Musician Who Made Millions On Spotify By Using Bots
Making money on Spotify is no easy task. Big name acts will of course make money, but lesser known musicians are getting chump change because of how hard it is to get listeners to stream their stuff. One play is worth $0.00397 to the artist. But if you had a way to get millions of listens, then you're making decent money. Sounds easy enough, except for that "millions of listens" part.
Some mystery musician in Bulgaria found a way to make Spotify financially viable, and the best part about their little scheme is that it wasn't even illegal. It was just a perfect loophole on a flawed system. This musician set up some abhorrently crappy playlists of music ... 30 second clips with names like "Soulful Music" that were more or less garbage. It was stuff no one would normally listen to on purpose. Except people were listening to it. Not only that, these playlists were getting on charts as some of the most popular music on Spotify.
If you liked this, check out my other playlist, "Music Songs".
It turns out that the artist had made 1200 premium Spotify accounts. That alone would have cost about $12,000. But here's the thing: each one of those accounts was playing these garbage playlists non-stop -- up to 60,000 listens a day on tracks that average about 43 seconds in length. 1200 accounts playing the same crap all day, every day, generated $415,000 a month. For one playlist.
Because none of this was illicit in any way, there was no particular reason for any of the activity to be flagged, and that means no one is even sure how long it was going on. But it's estimated that this person raked in upwards of $3 million.
The whole scheme was only discovered when these craptatsic playlists started charting, and someone noticed that a list with over 400 songs from an artist that no one had heard of before seemed kind of fishy. The songs were actually charting higher than stuff from recognized musicians at major labels. Buy why were they all barely over 30 seconds long? Well, it turns out that's the cut-off length for monetization.
Things fell apart when a record label became aware of the situation and complained to Spotify, who then scrubbed the playlists and deleted most of the tracks. And now that we think about it ... that's actually more of an artistic statement than 99% of modern pop music.
Like this article? Check out "5 People Who Won Big By Manipulating The System" and "5 Real Life Robin Hoods Who Made The World A Better Place".