The Sewing Machine Hoax

Tailors watch out! There's a weird yet popular hoax going on in Saudi Arabia that set people rushing out to buy old-fashioned sewing machines for up to $50,000:

The Singer sewing machines are said to contain traces of red mercury, a substance that may not exist. But it is widely thought that it can be used to find treasure, ward off evil spirits or even make nuclear bombs.

It is believed that tiny amounts can sell for millions of dollars, the Saudi Gazette reported. The paper said that trade in the sewing machines was brisk across the country.


Now, if we can only convince them that Neatoramabot T-shirt contains the even-more-exotic purple mercury, then we'll be set for life!

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There's also a "popular" Singer sewing machine scam in Romania. It's been going on for some years now, here's how it goes:
First, you see an ad posted somewhere that says that a foreign (most of the times German) businessman is buying Singer sewing machines at very high prices. As these machines are quite common, many people call in feeling lucky that they could sell theirs for thousand euros. When they call, the scammer tells them that these machines are only valuable in pairs, based on serial numbers. When the mark gives the serial number of their machine, the con man remembers that he did find somewhere a machine that matches that serial number, but the owner won't sell, so he invites the mark to visit the other owner and try to convince him of selling his machine too. The other owner is of course connected to the con man and eventually gives in and accepts to sell his machine to the mark for a huge sum. The mark then has the "pair" of sewing machines and wants to sell them to the con man, which naturally is nowhere to be found.
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Ah, the quest for Red Mercury. I haven't heard about this in 15 years. Back then, a friend told me that he could make me a lot of money if I could make it. I told him that his backers needed to get me $100,000 to set up the laboratory.

Hey, have you heard the one about using Silly Putty to make plastic explosives?
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