Make Money Quick (Or Make A Fool of Yourself Trying)
Earlier in the recession, some people speculated that the economic downturn could lead to a rise in crime and general chaos in cities across America. For the most part though, the recession has gone pretty smoothly, except for the whole 10% unemployment thing and all those foreclosed homes. Well, at least our cities are still standing (though Detroit is being auctioned off).
Still, even if there haven’t been mass crime waves, there have been plenty of crazy cases of desperate Americans trying to make money fast, only to make fools of themselves in the process … or worse. Here are some of the worst recession money-making schemes we could dig up.
Photo Credit: magerleagues
Selling Your Wife Online
Florian Penev, a man from the Bronx, was arrested earlier this year for trying to sell sex with his wife through Craigslist. The plan was for his wife to meet the lucky buyer at a city hotel and go from there. (Penev’s wife was also arrested.)
When asked why he did it, Penev confessed to having lost his job as a graphic designer. He was eventually fined $2,000 for the episode, and amazingly, he’s not the first person to use this tactic to pay the bills.
Photo Credit: Don Hankins
A North Carolina school was in the spotlight last week for promoting a new program where students could pay for better grades. The program was billed as a way for the school to raise money, but was quickly criticized.
The school offered 20 extra points on two different exams for $20. Not a bad deal, but a pretty bad example for kids. The principal of the school was quoted as saying that a few points on two tests couldn’t make much of a difference for students’ final grades. Nonetheless, the program was scrapped after a day, due to media scrutiny and an outcry from parents.
Photo Credit: theritters
Selling Your Spouse's Grave
Would you sell your spouse’s resting place to help pay for your home? Well, one widow in Beverley Hills decided to do just that. Her husband has been buried in the crypt directly above Marilyn Monroe for more than two decades, but earlier this year, his widow realized she needed more money to pay off her hefty $1.6 million mortgage.
With nowhere else to turn, she decided to take advantage of her husband’s prime real estate and put his crypt up for auction (even though this means she has to move him to another resting place). She had one bid for $4.6 million, which turned out to be a joke, and no serious takers since then.
Photo Credit: Tim Green aka atoach
Robbing A Bank
In one incredible case last October, a bank robber in Washington put up an ad on Craigslist for maintenance workers, promising to pay close to $30 an hour. Who could turn that down in a recession? More than a dozen recruits were told to wait outside a Bank of America wearing a specific outfit. Unfortunately for them, their real task was to serve as decoys for the bank robber who was at that moment mid-robbery wearing the same outfit. Instead of a fat paycheck, they got a long police interrogation.
In another case that we’ve written about previously, a man stormed into a Houston bank with a gun and asked the tellers to empty all their cash drawers. Then, he decided to confess to the tellers that it wasn’t his fault, the economy was making him do it. “"I'm only doing this to eat," the robber reportedly said while holding his gun, according to FBI statements. "They're not letting me work."
Well, he’s getting three square in prison, which brings us to the next scheme on the list.
Photo Credit: mscaprikell
Stealing to Get Free Lunch In Jail
This didn’t happen in America, but it’s too good to pass up. Like the U.S., Taiwan has been badly impacted by the recession. After losing his job, one man decided he had no choice but to steal in order to be sent to prison and get free lunches. But prison food can’t be that good, can it?
Reuters reports that after having been arrested for stealing a pair of shoes and then released, the man “could not forget the police department boxed lunches.” So he stole a box of cotton swabs to get back in jail. Ultimately, this is a failure of ambition, more than anything else. If his goal was to wind up in jail, he should have stolen something better than Q Tips.
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New York State License Plates
Individuals aren’t the only ones resorting to desperate tactics to make money quick. Several state governments have tried to compensate for budget shortfalls with tacky tactics.
New York state recently announced that it would force everyone to get new license plates next year. The plates, which will cost $25 each, are expected to bring in $260 million and create more than 100 jobs. This comes after the state has already enforced surcharges for renewing driver’s licenses and car registrations. Personally, I think they should just impose a tax on car bumper stickers. That’s something many drivers might get behind.
For an even worse state money-making scheme, see the next slide.
Photo Credit: woody1778a
The Great California Garage Sale
California’s government is filled with more weird stories and plot twists than all the terrible sitcoms filmed in the state. So if you don’t remember the news about the big garage sale earlier this year, we understand. There have been a lot of other happenings in California to distract you.
Cars, vans, computer parts and office furniture were on sale. All items had either been seized by police or were in government storage. While having a state-sponsored garage sale full of items like prison shirts and seized electronics might not sound like the smartest PR move, it did generate $1 million. That doesn’t come close to solving the state’s fiscal crisis, though.
Photo Credit: magnusdigity
This list wouldn’t be complete without a celebrity extortion plot (or two). Robert Halderman, the man accused of trying to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million, was debt-ridden and desperate for money, which allegedly pushed him to engage in this plot. This may seem like an anomaly separate from the recession, until you consider a similar extortion plot against Cindy Crawford (the suspect confessed that he was broke and needed fast cash). Perhaps celebrity extortion plots are the newest economic indicator.
Photo Credit: Alan Light