An Heiress Duped Her Fiancé Into A Fake Wedding Because He Didn’t Want To Sign A Prenup, 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.

Happily Never After

Things can turn ugly when a marriage breaks up, but in the case of the split between celebrity hairstylist William Jordan Blackmore and Andi Potamkin, heiress to the Potamkin Auto Group, things really went for a really weird, unexpected turn. In a $2 million lawsuit Blackmore has filed against Potamkin, Blackmore claims that his wedding was a PR “stunt” his former partner had orchestrated to get attention.

“The truth was that Andi never wanted to marry Jordan; she just wanted a lavish wedding experience, a public-relations stunt and the attention that came with it,” the lawsuit claims.

[The New York Post]

Despite the lavishness of the wedding, which, according to The New York Post, lasted for four days and had guests staying in suites that cost, on average, $2,600 to $4,350 a night, Blackmore alleges that the wedding was “a sham” because Potamkin had, unbeknownst to him, dissuaded their officiant from getting ordained.

Blackmore claims Andi’s father, Alan Potamkin, was concerned about his daughter’s financial future given Blackmore’s initial reluctance to sign a prenup, and that the two hatched a scheme to make sure the marriage wasn’t legal.

It remains to be seen whether or not this was actually an intentional scam or just a bitter falling out between two former lovers, as Potamkin’s lawyers have are claiming, saying both parties did not recognize the legality of the wedding ceremony.

Student By Day, ‘Business Entrepreneur’ By Night

A high school teacher recounts how he made around $10,000 during his college years at an SEC party school. His side hustle? Charging his fellow classmates money to turn in papers they didn’t or couldn’t finish.

My pricing system was based on a lot of different factors. If you gave me a bunch of notice and it was a couple of pages, I would probably do it for $25. But if I had to read a book or at least pretend that I had read a book, that would jack the price up. There was also a desperation factor involved—if I know you’re not gonna do it yourself, I would charge way more, like over $100.

[Vice]

How To Get Away With Charging $18,000 For A Static HTML Page

Though not a scam, software developer Ibrahim Diallo’s tale of how he managed to get away with charging a client $18,000 for a simple project that was initially quoted for $1,500 is wildly entertaining.

How did all of this happen? Well, to put it simply, it was a classic tale of office mismanagement and bureaucracy. What initially should have been a day’s work for Diallo developed into a seven-week-long adventure: 

They used courtesy to ignore my emails. They used CC to deflect my questions. They used spam to dismiss anything I asked. I spent my days like an archaeologist digging through the deep trenches of emails, hoping to find answers to my questions. 

[idiallo.com]

Not Up To Code

Two years ago, the nonprofit organization Mined Minds promised to train rural Appalachians how to code and to get them tech jobs. That promise, according to former students who signed up for Mined Minds’ program, turned out to be nothing but a scam in this very disheartening story from The New York Times.

Many West Virginians like Ms. Frame signed up for Mined Minds, quitting their jobs or dropping out of school for the prized prospect of a stable and lucrative career. But the revival never came.

Almost none of those who signed up for Mined Minds are working in programming now. They described Mined Minds as an erratic operation, where guarantees suddenly evaporated and firings seemed inevitable, leaving people to start over again at the bottom rungs of the wage jobs they had left behind.

[The New York Times]

And Just When You Thought Robocalls Couldn’t Get Any Worse…

Well, they did. According to CNN, the number of virtual kidnappings has been rising over the past few years, thanks to the ease with which scammers can spoof a phone call, pretending to be calling from the number of kidnapped victims to bilk their relatives out of thousands of dollars worth of ransom money.

“I have your son and I’m going to f*ck him up,” a voice on the other side of the phone said.

For two hours one afternoon in early April, 61-year-old Joseph Baker and his wife Maggie drove around Charlotte, North Carolina, listening to every demand of their son Jake’s supposed kidnapper.”If you call the police, I will know and kill him,” he threatened, according to the Bakers. “I have a scanner.”The caller ID on Joseph’s smartphone display said the call was coming from his son’s number. The couple had no reason not to believe the man on the other end of the line, who knew personal details about the family, including where they lived.

[CNN]

The Man Rescuing Athletes From Fraud

The Washington Post’s profile of Chase Carlson, an investment fraud lawyer who has represented over 30 athletes in the past five years, is a fascinating look into how prevalent a problem financial fraud is for professional athletes. 

Athletes, because of their age — they are, on average, younger than other people with significant amounts of money — are an especially vulnerable target for unscrupulous swindlers.

Along the way, Carlson has seen athletes get bamboozled by smooth talkers and trust-me charmers, pouring cash into shady start-ups, bogus securities, an ill-conceived electronic bingo casino and an ill-fated nightclub that was run by the financial adviser who recommended the investment. He has become an expert on how and why athletes get duped, and something of a gossip clearinghouse for agents, accountants and others who suspect someone is stealing from the players they work with.

[The Washington Post]

Pang-Chieh Ho is an associate editor at Digg.

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