Created By: MrInitialMan on September 20, 2012 Last Edited By: MrInitialMan on February 14, 2014
Nuked

Frauds And Foolies / Forgeries

Will be split at launch.

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Trope
A hoax (or foolie) is something intended to deceive or defraud. A fraud is trickery or deceit aimed specifally at dishonestly gaining wealth (The Con is a subtrope of this) or an advantage. And a forgery is simply something fake passed off as being genuine.

The reasons for these may be many—anything from a harmless jest to a financial scam to provoking an attack on a person or group

Frauds And Foolies, unsurprisingly, make excellent plot material—anything from being a short-term part of the plot or the basis of an entire story.

Here are the differences:

  • The Hoax is a deception that is usually done For the Lulz, but may also be done for revenge (Atlanta Nights was to gain revenge on—and expose—Publish America) or to whip up fervor for or against a group (such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion). Also known as a "foolie".

  • The Fraud is deception for power or money. Subtropes include:
    • Landslide Elections where the "election" is a sham perpetrated for political power.
    • The Con, a fraud perpetrated in the pursuit of wealth. Posing as an heir is this type of fraud.

  • The Forgery is a fake object masquerading as the real thing, for example a forged letter or a forged painting Subtropes are:


Examples of hoaxes and frauds

Film
  • The Hoax is a rather loosely Based on a True Story dramatization of Clifford Irving's fake Howard Hughes autobiography.

  • In Shattered Glass, another Based on a True Story film, Stephen Glass spends years making stories up for The New Republic until some elementary fact-checking by reporters from Forbes exposes him as a fabulist.

  • F for Fake, the last film directed by Orson Welles, is a documentary about art forger Elmyr de Hory, which grew into a meditation about the nature of fakery and hoaxes after de Hory's biographer, Clifford Irving, was revealed to be a hoaxer as well (see The Hoax listed on this page).

  • The 1985 film Clue by Paramount Pictures has extortionist Mister Boddy invite six victims to his mansion, wherein a series of murders are committed. The hoax is that the victims think they're getting a chance to silence those who put them under Boddy's thumb in the first place. In reality, Boddy's master plan is to inveigle his targets in complicity to murder so that he can squeeze them further.

  • The original Springtime for Hitler in The Producers was an attempt to defraud investors in a play.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Detective Rudameyer engineers a brilliant hoax upon Harry Kenyon in order to compel Harry to reveal the reason he murdered his wife and made it look like an traffic accident in Vanishing Act from May 1986.
  • The last episode of the second series of Sherlock is a grand hoax perpetrated by Jim Moriarty to discredit Sherlock.

Web Original
  • The now-defunct Rob Lancaster's Gallery of Unusual Playing Cards displayed something called The Slf-Lirpa deck, which was a set of invisible playing cards. For YEARS, people thought the cards were real, not realizing that the name of the company that made them reads "April Fools" in reverse—nor that it was posted on April 1.

Webcomics
  • Clockwork Game is the story of a hoax—specifically, a chess-playing machine.

Real Life
  • The Calgary Sun ran an article about some pet fee that City Hall was planning to implement, causing loud outcries against City Hall. It was a prank.

  • In the 1950s, the BBC had several phone calls after Panorama's spaghetti tree hoax from people wondering if they could grow their own.

  • I, Libertine was a "book" that was concocted by radio DJ Jean Shepherd to highlight the flaws in how bestsellers lists were being compiled. Sure enough, he and his listeners successfully got a non-existent book by a non-existent author on the New York Times Bestseller list. By the time the hoax was openly admitted, the compilers of lists had already been made to look like fools.

  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a document purportedly describing a scheme of world domination by the Jews, and has been used as a warrant for antisemitism. It is a hoax first published in Russia in 1903, and revealed as a hoax (and a heavily plagerized one) in 1921. Didn't stop Those Wacky Nazis from using it, though.

  • The Great Moon Hoax. In 1835 the New York newspaper The Sun published 6 articles claiming that the astronomer Sir John Herschel had discovered life and civilization on the Moon.

  • The Dreadnought Hoax was a practical joke by Horace Cole, in which he disguised several friends (including Virginia Woolf) as Abyssinian Princes and visited the HMS Dreadnought. The navy was completely fooled, and were NOT happy when they found out.

  • A Dutch artist named Van Meegren forged several paintings in the style of the old Dutch masters—not for personal gain, but to ruin art critics, whom he loathed.

  • The Piltdown Man could be considered a fraud perpetrated in pursuit of scientific prestige—if it could be conclusively proven who the hoaxer was.

  • The Cardiff Giant was a statue that was marketed as a petrified man (and thus a fraud). Then a rival showman made a copy and presented it as the real Cardiff Giant (thuse a forgery of a fraud).


Examples of Forgeries (will split off from this)

Literature
  • In Storm Rising, it turns out Baron Tremain, who has been sent to conquer Hardorn (and found himself stuck there) has a forged copy of the Imperial Seal that he made himself.

Webcomics
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn exposes coins as forged though he's completely wrong about the telling clue.

Real Life
  • The Cardiff Giant was a statue that was marketed as a petrified man (and thus a fraud). Then a rival showman made a copy and presented it as the real Cardiff Giant (thus a forgery of a fraud).

Community Feedback Replies: 50
  • September 20, 2012
    CrankyStorming
    In the 1950s, the BBC had several phone calls after Panorama's spaghetti tree hoax from people wondering if they could grow their own.
  • September 20, 2012
    JonnyB
    The 1930's broadcast of War Of The Worlds.
  • September 20, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • September 20, 2012
    Astaroth
    May overlap with Poes Law
  • September 20, 2012
    KarjamP
    Wait a minute, Isn't this Poes Law, But More Specific?

    It states that either a geniume thing can be considered by the public fake or a fake thing mistaken as a real thing.

    Therefore, examples can go under that one.
  • September 22, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    I thought Poes Law was specific to satire.
  • April 6, 2013
    MrInitialMan
  • April 6, 2013
    thewriter
    Subverted in an episode of Happy Endings. Max goes on a pranking spree against his friends after thy prank him. Penny comes home to her apartment to see a trail of rose petals leading to her dining room table with a diamond engagement ring on it. Excited that her boyfriend, Pete, decided to propose to her, she unstable to the phone to call he mother and is promptly splattered with green slime all over her head. Upset that Max would lead her to think that she is getting engage, Penny attempts to invoke this trope towards Max and rents a wedding dress. She runs to Max's house in order to prank him by making him feel bad for having her believe lthat sh easy getting married. When she tells Max he is genuinely surprised that Pete proposed to her. Turns out that his prank was just the slime dropping onto her head. Pete actually was planning on proposing and he laid down the rose petals and bought the engagement ring.
  • April 7, 2013
    Stratadrake
    "...Usually, this People Sit On Chairs, but sometimes it causes QUITE the kerfuffle...."

    That's YMMV. Not a good sign when it encompasses half the description.
  • September 29, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    YKTTW overhauled to describe hoaxes in general.
  • September 29, 2013
    Tallens
    For something to be a hoax, it has to be originally intended to deceive, right? So something that's supposed to be satire or just entertainment that gets taken seriously wouldn't be this, right?
  • September 29, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Good point, and likely not. The Onion, for example, would technically not be a hoax, as it's a parody website. The Turk, on the other hand, was presented AS a chess-playing machine, when it was actually a puppet.
  • September 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Truth In Television
    • The Great Moon Hoax. In 1835 the New York newspaper The Sun published 6 articles claiming that the astronomer Sir John Herschel had discovered life and civilization on the Moon.
  • September 30, 2013
    SharleeD
    Web Original:

    • The website museumofhoaxes.com is a collection of hundreds of these things.
  • September 30, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    How, in works of fiction, is this different from The Masquerade? I'm thinking The Wizard Of Oz is one: "I am the great and powerful Oz."
  • September 30, 2013
    gallium
    The Masquerade is a society-wide plot, applicable to a broad setting, at least how I read it.

    "The setting, the geography, etc. should somewhat resemble the viewer's. The newspapers will have the same headlines, the cities will look the same on the surface, etc. But... hidden below it all, what's really going on is far different."

    A hoax is a specific action meant to accomplish a specific deception. So in The Matrix, the whole world is The Masquerade. If someone within that world is selling a a quack breast enlargement cream, or impersonating an obscure European prince or something, that's The Hoax.
  • September 30, 2013
    gallium
    I am deleting War of the Worlds from the list above. I don't think there was any actual intention of creating a hoax; that was an early version of the Mockumentary. (And if we do list War of the Worlds it should be under the heading of Radio).
  • September 30, 2013
    gallium
    Film

    • The Hoax is a rather loosely Based On A True Story dramatization of Clifford Irving's fake Howard Hughes autobiography.

    • In Shattered Glass, another Based On A True Story film, Stephen Glass spends years making stories up for The New Republic until some elementary fact-checking by reporters from Forbes exposes him as a fabulist.
  • September 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Weblinks Are Not Examples so you need to add a context for that Web Original example of yours.
  • September 30, 2013
    RandomSurfer
    Orson Welles' radio broadcast of The War Of The Worlds is often referred to as a hoax, but it was just a radio drama that a few people took literally and got a lot of press coverage over.
  • October 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Did some formatting.
  • October 1, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Oh, well, then, a magnificent deception as the plot works for me. :)

    Film
    • The quintessential plot of The Sting involves duping ruthless banker Doyle Lonnegan into wagering a huge sum at Henry Gondorff's rigged betting parlor. The entire parlor is actually many con men united to fleece Lonnegan as payback for the brutal murder of grifter Luther Coleman by Lonnegan's thugs.

    Live Action TV
    • Detective Rudameyer engineers a brilliant hoax upon Harry Kenyon in order to compel Harry to reveal the reason he murdered his wife and made it look like an traffic accident in Vanishing Act from May 1986.
  • October 1, 2013
    Tallens
    • The last episode of the second series of Sherlock is a grand hoax perpetrated by Jim Moriarty to discredit Sherlock.

    Also might want to discuss how this differs from The Con.
  • October 1, 2013
    gallium
    The Con is scamming someone out of money. The Hoax is basically a trick. To use examples above, Shattered Glass is The Hoax, while The Sting is The Con because they're stealing from Robert Shaw.
  • October 6, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^^^^ I'm not sure how much more descriptive than "it's a collection of hundreds of hoaxes" I can be, there. If you're suggesting I list them individually, this is going to wind up being the longest YKTTW ever.
  • October 13, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Possible alternate title: Hoaxes Frauds And Forgeries. The title comes from a chapter of a book called "Strange Stories, Amazing Facts." The Con would be a subtrope of this, where a hoax/fraud/forgery is used to scam someone out of money.
  • October 13, 2013
    Prfnoff
    The description needs to be fleshed out a lot. I see this as a trope about plots set in motion by hoaxes.
  • October 13, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    The Hoax could set a plot in motion, it could advance the plot, or it could be the very basis of the story.
  • October 13, 2013
    Tallens
    There's a YKTTW called Forged Letter which would probably be a subtrope of this.
  • October 13, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • The 1985 film Clue by Paramount Pictures has extortionist Mister Boddy invite six victims to his mansion, wherein a series of murders are committed. Boddy's master plan is to inveigle his targets in complicity to murder so that he can squeeze them further. The hoax is that the victims think they're getting a chance to silence those who put them under Boddy's thumb in the first place.
  • October 25, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Forged Letter could indeed be a subtrope.
  • October 26, 2013
    gallium
    Film

    • F For Fake, the last film directed by Orson Welles, is a documentary about art forger Elmyr de Hory, which grew into a meditation about the nature of fakery and hoaxes after de Hory's biographer, Clifford Irving, was revealed to be a hoaxer as well (see The Hoax listed on this page).
  • October 26, 2013
    nlpnt
    Maybe a limit to Real Life examples would be advisable, to keep the page from turning into Snopes Lite.
  • October 26, 2013
    Tallens
  • October 27, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Actually, like The Sting mentioned earlier, The Producers qualifies as The Con, since it specifies "defraud." In that particular case, it's The Con Gone Horribly Right.
  • October 27, 2013
    Kernigh
    Fake objects might be Fakin Mac Guffin (a fake decoy for a real object) or Mock Guffin (a fake when there is no real object).
  • October 28, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Frasier Frasier buys an expensive peice of art and has a private showing to which he invites the artist. The artist takes one look and says that she never painted anything as ugly as that.
  • October 29, 2013
    kjnoren
    I can't say I like mashing three different things into one trope. It becomes unfocused. Better to split it up into three different but related tropes.
  • October 29, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    Should this have remained The Hoax, and make two other tropes: The Fraud and The Forgery?
  • October 29, 2013
    kjnoren
    I think so. Possibly with some more evocative names. Especially a forgery works differently story-wise than a fraud or a hoax (which are more similar in concept).
  • November 3, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    What would you suggest for each?
  • November 6, 2013
    kjnoren
    No idea, though I'd probably start off simple, like simply Forgery and perhaps Hoaxes And Frauds (the difference between these is more gradual, now that I've thought it over).

    Forgery would already have a ready subtrope, in Counterfeit Cash.
  • November 6, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Subverted with orphan Anya in Don Bluth's Anastasia. Russian rogues Vladimir and Dmitry convince orphan Anya to pose as the missing Princess Anastasia in a scheme to escape Socialist Russia. The subversion occurs during Anya's interview with Duchess Sophie, where Anya reveals the details of her escape from the Imperial Palace, which only the true Princess Anastasia could know.
  • November 6, 2013
    DAN004
    So what is a hoax, what is a fraud and what is a forgery?
  • November 6, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    ^ Everyone of these involves a group of people believing in a falsehood. The differences lie in how much actual damage is wrought.

    A hoax is a school kid prank, something that unnerves the group, and when the truth is learned, there's no damage except to egos. "Ha ha, made you look! Psyche! You got used!" A hoax is what kids used to call a "foolie."

    A fraud is a trick that takes some advantage of people. Someone posing as a wealthy foreigner just to rub elbows with high society is a fraud. Most rackets that net much more than the amount ventured are "fraudulent practices" under law.

    A forgery is straight-out criminal misrepresentation. A signature not rightly given is attached to a document that verifies something. Counterfeit money has forgeries of the Secretary of the Treasury, and is worthless. All forgeries are felonies under law.
  • November 7, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    A forgery involves an object—specifically a fake object masquerading as the real thing, for example a forged letter, a forged painting, or forged money (AKA Counterfeit Cash).

    A fraud is deception for power or money—a sham election is a fraud perpetrated for political power. The Con (or a scam) is a fraud perpetrated in the pursuit of wealth. Posing as an heir is also a fraud. The Piltdown Man could be considered a fraud perpetrated in pursuit of scientific prestige—if it could be conclusively proven who the hoaxer was.

    The hoax is usually a prank with other goals in mind—usually for laughs, but may also be to prove a point, or deceive for means other than power or money. The Dreadnaught hoax was a prank played on the British navy For The Lulz. Atlanta Nights was a hoax to get revenge on Publish America, which had been critical of fantasy and science-fiction. And The Protocols Of The Elders of Zion was a hoax perpetrated for the purpose of fanning Anti-Semetic fervor.
  • November 21, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    So, is this ready to go, or do you guys think there should be a split?
  • November 21, 2013
    kjnoren
    It's not remotely ready, and at least forgeries need it's own trope.
  • November 25, 2013
    MrInitialMan
    How about Foolies And Frauds for the hoaxes and frauds (since the line between them is kind of blurry)? We just need a good name for forgeries, and I'll split them. (The Cardiff Giant goes under both)
  • December 24, 2013
    MrInitialMan
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=pwa6is09rh584onyd256qwn8