The Students Who Key-Logged Their Teacher, And More Of The Week’s Best Scam Stories
CONS AND PROS

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It seems like we’re living in a society that’s full of scams, hoaxes and questionable practices committed by individuals or corporations these days. Some scams are purely horrible, some are more incredible than egregious, and some are just really, really weird.

Welcome to Cons And Pros, a weekly roundup of the most outrageous scam stories we have come across this week.

Here’s A Cool Study Hack

Most of us probably try to get good grades at high school by studying, but for these two teenagers, hacking into their teacher’s computer to change the grades was the thing they really put a lot of time and effort into in an almost “Ocean’s 11”-like scheme. 

So my friend and I positioned the cameras toward one classroom where the teacher was known to walk in and out of the room constantly. We used the cameras to see when she left before the end of school, and we caught the door before she left. She hadn’t logged off, and we got access.

We put a key-logger on her computer, which would email us every half-hour what she had typed. That’s how we got her username and password. And since we had access to her credentials, we had access to the grade book. Now we could change the grades.

[Vice]

What initially began as an altruistic action — they would use it to help bump up the grades of their friends who needed it — also turned into a nice side hustle where they charged people for their “service.”

The lesson we learned from this? Never underestimate your students, especially when it comes to technological savviness.

Objection, Your Honor

It was supposed to be a carbon credit fraud trial, but then things went south when the star witness of the prosecution team was revealed to be a fraud himself. 

A £3.5million scam case in the UK was closed by a judge at Southwark Crown Court after the expert witness, Andrew Ager, confessed that he was actually not an expert in the trading of carbon credits, the permit that allows a country or an organization to emit a certain amount of carbon emissions.

Mr Ager, the CPS’s expert witness on the carbon credit trading market, admitted that he had no academic qualifications, had received no training nor had he attended any course on the carbon credit trade.

He said that could not remember if he had passed any A-levels and that he had never read the only book published on what was supposed to be his area of expertise. Instead, he claimed that he had learned “from his environment”.

[The Telegraph]

What is most troubling is that Ager has been involved in 20 to 50 carbon credit cases as a star witness before. And according to BBC, several of his witness statements in this trial was copy-and-pasted from statements he had given before in other cases.

Not A Pretty Picture

Several years ago, artist Peter Max, who is best known for his pop and psychedelic art, began to suffer from dementia. And yet strangely, the production of his paintings has never stopped, despite the fact that the painter hasn’t painted seriously for years.

According to Amy Chozick from The New York Times, Max’s family and business associates have been exploiting the artist by having Max sign paintings that were created by teams of “ghost painters,” paintings that would later be auctioned off in art auctions on cruise ships. 

But that’s not even the most bizarre thing in this tale of financial exploitation and elder abuse, a story that in many ways mirrors that of the late Stan Lee’s:

For five years and counting — the latest lawsuit came Friday — the artist’s family, friends and associates have been trading lurid courtroom allegations of kidnapping, hired goons, attempted murder by Brazil nut, and schemes to wring even more money out of what was already one of the most profitable art franchises in modern times. From Shun Lee to the high seas, the twilight years of Mr. Max’s life have produced a pursuit of art-auction profits and a trail of misfortune as surreal as his trippiest works.

[The New York Times]

Careful What You Apply For

There are many “work from home” scams out there, but most likely won’t lead to you being served with a federal prison sentence. Unfortunately for Douglas Glover, he had fallen victim to a scam that was highly illegal in more senses than one.

When Alabama 37-year-old Douglas Glover saw a job ad on Monster.com offering a chance to work from home in 2016, it seemed like a pretty good gig. Someone using the name “Ginger M. Towers” from a company calling itself North Star Freight offered him $25 for every package he managed to send out.

[The Daily Beast]

While this type of scheme usually involves corporations recruiting people to send high-end goods to places like Russia using stolen credit card information, things became even dicier for Glover when the company asked him to send two boxes filled with something decidedly more dangerous: 50 AK-47 magazines.

How Preachers Have Preyed On The Poor

Vicky Baker’s BBC piece on how televangelists are making money off people off poor Americans is essentially two stories. One story is about two victims, Larry and Darcy Fardette, a couple who donated around $20,000 to different religious organizations over the years in the hopes that the money they’d invested in — called “seeds” — would multiply and their faith be rewarded. The other story is about the origins of Trinity Foundation, a ministry that has become one of the most important watchdog organizations investigating religious fraud committed by televangelists and churches.

One of the most gut-wrenching parts of the piece is you can see from the story of the Fardettes how televangelists are scamming those who are in dire financial need of what little is left of their money:

A number of those making the most persistent pleas for money tap into something called the prosperity gospel, which hinges on a belief that your health and wealth are controlled by God, and God is willing you to be prosperous. Believers are encouraged to show their faith through payments, which they understand will be repaid – many times over – either in the form of wealth or healing.

For followers, it is a way to make sense of sickness and poverty. It can feel empowering and inspiring amid despair. The hard-up donors are often not oblivious to the preachers’ personal wealth – though they may not know the extent of it – but they take the riches as a sign of a direct connection with God. If seed payments have worked for them, maybe they can work for you too?

[BBC]

When the Fardettes were desperate for money to help their ailing daughter’s health, the responses, however, were disheartening.

His daughter’s health, which had long been poor, had become critical. Larry had promised to help her financially, but his “seeds” had not flourished. He wrote a heart-wrenching, five-page letter to several ministries he had contributed to over the years, pleading for help. 

“We had been faithful to these ministries. They called us partners, friends, family,” he explains today. “We thought they’d be there for us.”

[…]

The replies drifted in. Some were instant email responses, others came through the post after prompting. All were rejections. 

[BBC]

Single Man Seeking Catfisher

It’s probably safe to say that most times during online dating, people really don’t want to be catfished, but now, as Hudson Hongo from Gizmodo has reported, there are actually a small number of men who are actively seeking to be catfished or scammed.

Martin, a self-described “loser virgin,” estimated that there are currently hundreds of catfish fetish accounts serving many more clients. He said he sometimes spends hundreds of dollars a week on catfish, and thinks the fact that these women “might be an old man or whatever” makes it even kinkier for some.

Eddie agreed. He said he had been catfished “quite a few times” by men pretending to be women and, eventually, “knowing someone was laughing at you and scamming you became a huge turn on.”

[Gizmodo]

Pang-Chieh Ho is an associate editor at Digg.


Photographing A Teenager Over The Course Of Eight Years, And More Of The Best Photography Of The Week
PICTURE THIS

Digg · Updated:

Every week, we curate the best new photography and photojournalism on the web, so you can spend your weekend kicking back and enjoying some beautiful pictures. Here are this week's picks:


The Many Faces Of Brooklyn

These photographs of Brooklyn tell a larger American story, one that touches on immigration, community, nature and home.

[See the photos at The Guardian]


A Portrait Of Womanhood In The Soviet Bloc

Her lauded series 'Women Between Inhaling and Exhaling' chronicles female life in former Czechoslovakia beginning in the 1970s, and after, during the uncertain transition from Communist rule to a post-Socialist nation. The sizeable collection is separated into seven pillars: adolescence, maternity, fun, work, eroticism, faith and old age. The moments between women's first and last breaths - shown in photographs of Kyndrová's own grandmother kissing her husband on his deathbed, a teenager in the passionate throes of a first kiss, and the agony and ecstasy of birth - are captured with intimacy and candour.

[See the photos at Huck Magazine]


Photographing Wild Swimmers In Scotland In All Weathers

I spent a whole year travelling around Scotland meeting amazing outdoor swimmers in all weathers and temperatures. I'm a keen outdoor swimmer myself, and also a photographer and decided to do this personal project […] Everyone I met had a wonderful story to tell, and most come to the water for some sort of healing, they told me stories of grief, depression, anxiety, PTSD, body confidence issues, chronic pain and more and how the water helps so much with these issues.

[See the photos from Bored Panda]


Light Paths On The World's Largest Salt Flats

Photographer Reuben Wu is known for his artistic landscape imagery, which he creates by using LED lights attached to a drone. By taking long-exposure photographs, Wu is able to have complete control over how we perceive light within the environment. His newest work even incorporates light painting for an even more surreal effect. For his latest adventure, he traveled to Bolivia and ventured high into the Andes in order to visit the world's largest salt flat—Salar de Uyuni.

[See the photos at My Modern Met]


Photographing An American Teenager Over The Course Of Eight Years

Neil admits that the project only worked because of the friendship that developed between Roy and himself - 'I don't think it's the type of thing you can pre-determine.' During the course of the project, Neil would notice the changes in Roy physically and psychologically, and overtime they had met up, they would quickly re-establish their friendship and working process.

[See the photos at It's Nice That]


The Ordinary Made Extraordinary: Martin Parr In Black And White

Martin Parr's early black and white photographs of the North of England are a remarkable record of an all-but disappeared society.

[See the photos at Magnum Photos]


This Week’s Top Memes, Ranked
BUS A MOVE

· Updated:

Here at Digg, we try our best to cover the most important and confounding memes that come across the timeline. But the web is littered with tons of great memes that never quite hit the mainstream, instead bouncing around the weird corners of Twitter or Reddit.

Enter: our recurring feature, Memes, Ranked, where we not only rank the funniest memes each week, we also keep a running top 10 of the best memes of 2019. Skip to that here.

For the week of October 14, we have a handful of contenders: Gifted Kids, Earphones Memes, Missing The Bus and “Fucking Mint” TikToks.


4. Missing The Bus

The meme: An ASCII Twitter meme that portrays an unlucky emoji person running for the bus and ultimately missing his or her ride. Missing The Bus tweets are all over Twitter, with hundreds of nearly identical tweets racking up thousands of RTs each.

The examples: 

Verdict: These memes are no good. There’s plenty of room to iterate and get creative here. Unfortunately, memers are not doing that, instead opting to just repost the same incredibly relatable but also pretty mundane ASCII cartoon. Weird online behavior if you ask me. But hey, while you’re asking me, nearly all online behavior is weird. Which brings us to…


3. Earphones Memes

The meme: Another simple ASCII meme. There’s an easy-to-follow premise to this one: people in your life ask if you’re okay, and you say yes, but the music you’re listening to tells a different story. The punchline to these memes tend to revolve around specific subculture references, which is part of the fun for these.

The examples: 

Verdict: Super simple, not the most creative, but still infinitely customizable. There’s always comedy in revealing inner trauma and guilty pleasures, and while not laugh out loud funny, these 100% Volume Earphones memes reveal both in spades.


2. Gifted Kid Memes

The meme: If you keep your eyes peeled to Millennials on Twitter, you might spy a lot of people who lead presumably normal lives complaining about the ***burden*** of being labeled a “gifted kid” early in their academic careers. Over the past few weeks, mounting wave of jokes has taken aim at these nerds.

The examples: 

Verdict: Damn, this really was not the best week for memes. But Gifted Kids complaining on Twitter always deserve to get roasted a little bit, and we at least got that. Second place this week.


1. Fucking Mint

The meme: A new trend has emerged on TikTok (AKA the place where all the internet’s hottest memes are now) — talking about a terrible thing that happened to you, making the “okay” symbol with your hand in front of the camera and letting out a throaty “fucking mint!” That’s it, that’s the meme.

The examples: 

Verdict: Hilarious. There’s a lot of wild internet energy in these dumb videos. They range from self-deprecating to savagely invasive. The joke is hilarious on video, but can be translated to text. It’s quotable in real life. This is a top notch meme. Thank you TikTok, thank you Gen Z. You both are un-ironically fucking mint.


The Official Josco™ 2019 Meme Power Ranking

Click each entry on the ranking to see when it debuted.

  1. Vibes
  2. The Girl Drinking Kombucha Reaction GIF
  3. Fucking Mint
  4. Untitled Goose Game
  5. Avengers TikToks
  6. Trump Featuring Nickelback
  7. There Are Two Wolves Inside You
  8. No One Can Have Both
  9. Gifted Kids
  10. Earphones

Can we get a vibe check?

Like staying on top of your memes? I could never blame you. Sign up for our new Weekly Meme Roundup newsletter to get the week's best memes sent directly to your inbox.

Joey Cosco is Digg's Social and Branded Content Editor.

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