5 People Who Redefined The Meaning Of “Fraud”

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by Ian Fortey

There’s a lot of fun to be had with creative fakery: Movie special effects and magicians are two great examples. It’s all fun and all make-believe. Unfortunately, we’ve all had experiences with the downside of fakery, such as when it looks like the cat wants to sit and be our friend, but instead it decides to endlessly bury its claws in our soft tissue. Pulling a fast one is no good, but man, do some people go above and beyond to add a layer of scumbaggery to it.


The Fake Quadriplegic

Say you’d done something wrong, got caught and now had to face the music. Do you shift the blame like when you claim it was actually the dog that farted? Do you run like a bandit in the night? Do you accept it like an adult and try to learn? Those are all pretty common responses. Alan Knight went for a brand new option when he was accused of fraud, though. He just faked massive, life-altering trauma. For years.

Alan Knight was caught ripping off his elderly neighbor, who had dementia, for about $52,000. When he was supposed to stand trial for that crime, there was a hiccup: Knight suffered a severe neck injury and became paralyzed. For two solid years he was laid up at home in bed, paralyzed from the neck down and sometimes even slipping into comas. The man was on oxygen and everything, too ill for trial. Except it turned out that it was all BS.



“Slow down! Are you trying to kill- oh right, I’m in a coma.”

Knight’s plan was to avoid facing the music for his crime, but he wasn’t super good at committing to a bit. Security camera footage from the local supermarket showed him mobile enough to go get groceries. He was also mobile enough to go on vacation where toll bridge cameras caught him on his way to and from the beach. When police tried to take him in, he’d suddenly get so ill he needed to go to the hospital, but doctors there caught him sitting up, feeding himself and writing stuff -- all amazing tasks for the average quadriplegic to pull off. It was a miracle!

Further investigation found pics on the man’s computer of him and his family at Legoland, and they finally managed to convict him of his crimes. The court told him he was going on trial whether he attended or not, and the dude had the stones to show up in a wheelchair and neck brace. They sent him to prison anyway. And his wife, too, for helping.

The Fake Kidnapping

You must have seen a movie by now where someone fakes a kidnapping to get ransom money from a family member because they have gambling debts or just really want a Jetta or something. It’s a weird storyline made all the more weird by the fact that people have literally done that for real. But this isn’t about that. This is about Rogelio Andaverde who faked his own kidnapping because he is 50% party animal and 50% terrified of his wife.

Rogelio was the kind of guy who had a bit of the wanderlust. He had a song in his heart and needed to do something about it, but he also had a fear that his wife would not approve. He wanted to go party with the boys and have some drinks and just chill, apparently for several days. Rather than address this with his spouse (or maybe he did but she was unreceptive?), Rogelio concocted a scheme.

Armed assailants literally broke into Andaverde’s home in Texas. It was 10:30 at night, and both guys had guns and masks. They grabbed Rogelio in front of his wife and took off, who then called the cops, because DUH. Police searched throughout the night, calling in a dozen extra officers and a helicopter. Nothing.



“And then I guess they just lost track of time.”

Two days later, Andaverde strolls back into his house, telling his wife the kidnappers let him go. The story fell apart almost immediately after the cops asked him questions for which he had no answer, because he was more full of crap than a trailer park septic system. He admitted he had staged the whole thing so he could get away and party with his friends (for two days) and was charged with a Class B misdemeanor. You have to assume that if he staged this out of fear of his wife in the first place, the aftermath must have been the stuff of legends. Or nightmares.

The Fake Rejection

Hearken back to a simpler time, when you felt you still had potential. When you were a student and thought the whole world was yours for the taking. Unless you are a student right now, in which case: congrats, the whole world is yours for the taking. There are so many potential paths to go down and so many awesome futures awaiting, but which one to choose? Montreal student Eric Abramovitz knew what he wanted; the talented musician was applying to Julliard and to the Colburn Conservatory of Music. He was a clarinet phenom, one of the best in all of Canada who had won numerous competitions and played orchestras. It was almost a no-brainer that this was his destiny. But he got rejected.

For the record, the teacher at Colburn is pretty much the best in the world, taking on only two students each year. If Abramovitz got in, it would have been a full ride -- a place to live, food to eat and knowledge from the best teacher there is, plus an almost guaranteed future in any orchestra of his choosing. But with only two spots, it wasn’t a total shock he didn’t make it.

The problem was that he actually had made the cut, but the acceptance was intercepted by Abramovitz’s then-girlfriend who was apparently some kind of soulless harpy-lady. She made a fake email and sent him a rejection, pulling his future out from under him like a crappy table cloth.



And he spent the remainder of his days as a lonely clarinet busker in Amsterdam.

Abramovitz finished his schooling in Montreal and then actually did go to USC to do a non-scholarship program, where he studied under the same teacher, who asked him why he rejected the offer. That must have been a confusing, earth-shattering moment for Abramovitz. He did some detective work to figure out what the hell was going on and discovered his ex, who he’d broken up with in the meantime, was behind the fraud. She hadn’t wanted him to leave her, so she faked the rejection (as well as others) to keep them together.

How to Abramovitz respond? He sued his ex for $300,000 for ruining his future. He won, too, and the judge added an extra $50,000 of “up yours” money.

The Fake Heart Attack

Did you ever see Sanford and Son? It’s a hilarious show. Redd Foxx, who played Fred Sanford, had a great bit where something would set him off and he’d clutch his chest, proclaiming he was on his way to see his dead wife as he feigned a heart attack. Foxx actually died of a heart attack during a rehearsal for a different show, and everyone laughed because they thought it was a joke. While Foxx had faked them for laughs, the dude in this story did it for hospital lunch.

No one’s ever accused a hospital of having a stellar menu. In fact, the food in the hospital seems like it was specifically designed to force your body to heal itself as fast as possible, just so you can escape back to normal cuisine. It’s like if Olive Garden gave up one day, which requires you to imagine that Olive Garden is currently trying. Nonetheless, Kenneth Ray Couch was super in the mood for some hospital egg salad or pudding, because he faked a heart attack in a local market after being reported for being in possession of a stolen gun. You know, how one does.

Before cops could even arrive, an ambulance came and took him to a nearby hospital. Once there, he walked his failing heart to the cafeteria and had lunch. Was there nowhere else to get a meal? Maybe the market he was in when he first faked the heart attack? We can’t ask too many questions here or the whole plot starts to sound shady.



“Hey guys, how’s the steak here?”

Cops found him in the cafeteria, proving this was no elaborate attempt to escape justice or a ruse to account for any of his bad behavior. He legit just wanted a free ride to get some food. They charged him with stealing the gun, as well as filing a false report for the heart attack. As further punishment, they probably made him eat the food he got.

The Fake Immigrant

Let’s go back to the halcyon days of February 2010 when a man could get arrested for being a drug dealer, and instead of facing the music for that crime, he could go before a judge and cop to a whole different crime that would effectively obfuscate the first. Were we ever so young?

The man known as Saul Quiroz basically did that when he avoided a prison sentence for his drug offense by telling the court he was a Mexican citizen, living illegally in the US.

Quiroz, who was not actually named Quiroz and was not actually a Mexican citizen, was actually Jamie Alvarado from Salt Lake City, Utah. He was handed over to ICE, and after a month in custody, they just deported him to Mexico. Once there, Alvarado dropped the Quiroz persona and then used his totally real and very legitimate US passport to come right back into the country. Basically, the US government gave him a free trip to Spring Break.



Wooooooooooooo, deportation!

In February 2011, a full year after he was first arrested, Alvarado was arrested again on the same damn warrant, and this time he confessed to not being an illegal immigrant. Naturally, when someone who’s already been deported shows up again and says they’re not illegal, no one buys that, so he got shipped back to ICE. They spent some time verifying his story, and then he was free to be sent to prison for the various crimes he’d committed, and the circle of life was completed.

Like this article? Check out “5 People Who Pulled Off Impressively High Profile Tricks” and “4 People Who Took Conning To The Level Of Performance Art”.

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