Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
In the Con-Artist edition of Dumb Criminals, we find that some criminals are almost ingenious…well…except for the criminals who are stupid as well. In our first story we find a woman who had a brilliant scheme to steal money until she was done in by her own doing. She and an accomplice would walk into a store or a boutique and while one distracted the salesperson, the other would stick a Post-It note on the register saying something to the effect of Mary is owed a refund and the amount of the refund would listed on the note. So “Mary” would come and collect her money and it worked until she was parked in a handicapped zone and when the police ran her plates to ticket her, she was found to be on the local Most Wanted list and was arrested.
This is also how the police caught the “Son of Sam” serial killer, David Berkowitz. He terrorized New York City in the late 70’s and was eventually caught due to a parking ticket.
Do you remember the movie “Crocodile Dundee” when a mugger pulled a knife on Paul Hogan in an attempt to rob him? Paul’s character, Crocodile Dundee, laughed and said, “That’s not a knife. This is a knife,” and he pulled out a much larger knife and the mugger ran off? Well, in 2007, in Bohemia, New York, art almost exactly imitated life when a man driving an SUV with police lights on top of it, pulled a car over. The man in the SUV, was impersonating a policeman and he flashed his fake badge to the driver of the car. The driver of the car, a real police detective laughed and said, “That’s not a badge. This is a badge,” he said as he produced his real badge. The humiliating part of this is that the real policeman’s name was indeed Paul Hogan. The fake cop was arrested for impersonating a police officer and also for driving without a license.
Do you remember the Wendy’s debacle when a woman named Anna Ayala claimed to have found a finger in her chili at the fast food restaurant? Well, as it turned out, the finger belonged to a co-worker of Ayala’s husband who had lost it during an “Industrial accident”. Somehow, Ayala’s husband got the piece of finger and gave it to his wife who proceeded to put in her chili at the restaurant and filed a lawsuit against the fast food chain restaurant. People were perplexed at how a finger could wind up in the chili and wouldn’t someone have known they lost a tip of their finger?
Ayala soon withdrew the lawsuit because of the scrutiny it was bringing. That Wendy’s restaurant had lost about 60% of their business after the news of the finger had come out and the restaurant had to lay off employees because of the downturn in their business. Ayala finally came forth and told authorities of the scam and she was arrested for it. This wasn’t her first scam either. While investigating the claim, the police had found that she had previously filed thirteen different lawsuits in her name and in her children’s names. Her husband was also in jail at the time the truth about the finger was exposed, for identity theft charges, unrelated to the Wendy’s scam.
A judge had ordered Ayala to pay about 22 million dollars in reparations to Wendy’s, but the fast food store said they would only seek about 170,000 dollars, representing the lost wages of the employees who were laid off. Ayala was also sentenced to nine years in prison.