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Notorious Frauds Who Somehow Still Have A Following Despite Being Exposed

Reddit user Ninac4116 asked: 'Who are some exposed frauds that still have a following despite being debunked?'

fraud themed artwork
@bastardbot/Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Cognitive dissonance is when one learns new information that challenges a deeply held belief that seems to undercut a favorable self-image, that person may feel motivated to somehow resolve the negative feeling that results—to restore cognitive consonance—by ignoring the challenging source.

This isn't the only response to cognitive dissonance, but it's the one most people are familiar with.

This behavior explains people believing something—or following a leader—despite all the contradictory facts. Outsiders look at the situation and are amazed that their adherents can't see the absurdity of the fraud.

But it's a common occurrence.

Just spend some time watching documentaries about cults and you'll see all the proof you need.

Reddit user Ninac4116 asked:

"Who are some exposed frauds that still have a following despite being debunked?"

Playing With Fyre

"That dude that went to prison for fraud for Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland. He is out now and wants to try again."

~ Can_Not_Double_Dutch

"Grifters gonna grift. His sleaziness was already well documented with that credit card/access card BS before the Fyre."

~ mcburloak

"The justice system certainly failed on this one. A long running pattern of documented fraud even before he committed the massive Fyre Festival wire fraud in the amount of millions of dollars and guy is out within a few years."

"What a f*cking joke. There are thousands of people serving more time for drug offenses and stealing 1/100th as much."

~ perfektstranger

* Billy McFarland is an American con artist and convicted felon who co-founded the ill-fated Fyre Festival as well as several other fraudulent businesses.

Fyre Festival GIF

The New MLM

"All of those YouTube 'financial freedom' classes/courses/programs."

~ TiaMaeLove

"I consider those to be Gen-Z pyramid schemes."

"'Learn how to get passive income by teaching people how to get passive income by teaching people how to get passive income!'."

"'Something, something grind mindset...'."

~ Kurt0690

Totally Not A Cult

"Keith Raniere who started NXIVM too."

"There's still a bunch of women that hang out outside of the prison he's in singing his praises every day."

"It's weird man."

~ HotGarbage

* Keith Raniere is an American cult leader who was convicted of a pattern of racketeering activity, including human trafficking, sex offenses and fraud."

- Reddit


Also Totally Not A Cult

"Warren Jeffs and Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)."

"Dude is literally in prison and still has a significant amount of devout followers."

~ alienwitchkitty

"To be fair, the FLDS is very isolated from the outside world (think no internet). It's possible that they genuinely don't understand the severity and overwhelming evidence of his crimes."

"Though you'd still think that watching your prophet marry children as his brides would set off some red flags."

~ lo_profundo

* Warren Jeffs is an American polygamous cult religious leader who was convicted of several sex crimes and two assisted sex crimes involving children.

"I’m a long time postal worker and I once did an intake at the plant of a pallet of letters from Warren Jeffs. They have to provide us a sample for this kind of mass mailing for billing purposes so I read the letter."

"He was sending it to every church of every denomination within our province (Canada). I imagine other plants got similar pallets."

"The letter was a demand that they give all properties and tithing money over to Warren Jeffs and the board of the FLDS. He wanted every priest/pastor to tell their congregation that they were wrong and would now be following Heavenly Father’s wishes to completely turn over everything to the FLDS and every member was to write letters and make calls demanding Warren’s immediate release."

"This mailing cost was in the thousands of dollars and I suspect every church in Canada received one, potentially tens of thousands in cost. That’s all money from his followers, terrible waste."

"For months afterwards we saw so many of these letters come back through the plant labeled return to sender. I would be completely shocked if they got even one positive reply. Massive waste."

~ janesfilms

Absolutely, Totally Not A Cult

"L Ron Hubbard. My uncle is Scientology level OT8."

"I'll never understand why he buys into it (literally and figuratively)."

~ thatoneguy889

"L. Ron pulled a ‘hold my beer’ before it was even a thing with saying the Ringling brothers (circus guys) were about to be upstaged by the biggest scam in history, then proceeded to write the Scientology books."

"Even knowing Hubbard was a failed sci-fi author, and that he had a history of failed scam attempts, people still believed the Scientology books were educational/historic documents and a guide to a wonderful life/afterlife. Mind blowing."

"Equally if not more of a scam than Joseph Smith reading the gold tablets from a hat, that only he could see and decipher because that is what God wanted. The level of gullibility of mankind throughout history is impressive in all the worst ways."

~ _calmer_than_you_r_

* Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was an American pulp science fiction author and the founder of Scientology.

Scientology GIFGiphy

Sleight Of Hand

"Uri Geller."

"He still to this day claims he has mystical powers and won't admit he's just doing magic tricks, despite being exposed by James Randi."

~ agent_x_75228

"The crazy part to me is that he is actually quite talented as a magician."

"He could make a good living just doing magic tricks and billing himself as such."

"He didn't even have to lie to be successful."

~ starmartyr

"His exposure on The Tonight Show with Carson is so fun to watch."

"You almost feel bad for him. Almost."

~ BulljiveBots

* Uri Geller is an Israeli-British television personality and self-proclaimed psychic known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other illusions to simulate the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy.

Oh, Oprah... 😞

"Dr Phil and Dr Oz."

~ 335i_lyfe

" Oprah has pushed so many terrible people and I feel like it really should be discussed more.

"My mom's been in a cult for years because of her pushing Gwen Shamblin and the Weigh Down diet on her show."

~ _angesaurus

"She propelled so many charlatans and their mumbo jumbo into the mainstream."

~ Dangerpuffins

* Phillip "Dr. Phil" McGraw is an unlicensed clinical psychologist and TV personality who appeared as a relationship and life strategy expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show whose methods have been called "exploitative" and "appallingly cruel."

* Dr. Mehmet Oz is a television presenter and physician who appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and his own program which drew criticism from the medical community for false medical claims and pseudoscience including faith healing and various paranormal beliefs.

Dr. Phil GIFGiphy

Body By...

"The Liver King guy, Brian Johnson, not sure if he still claims to be natural though."

~ RegularEmbarrassed36

"Dudes got a physique that is pretty much impossible to achieve natural."

"Like it's still hard work even if you're not natty. But don't give other kids the idea it's achievable."

~ herroebauss

"It's not just him giving kids the idea, he's quite literally RIPPING THEM OFF, selling all these products, selling his lifestyle, taking their money pretending that he's helping them."

~ battleduck84

"He admitted he was using steroids, went clean for a bit, and unless there's been developments in the last few months he's back on steroids and claiming he's not."

~ blames_irrationally

* Brian "Liver King" Johnson is an American fitness social media influencer.

Who Profits From The "Prosperity Gospel"?

"Joel Osteen"

~ Blue_Period_89

"The guy just sells toxic positivity, begs for more money, and claims it under the Christian God. I'm a Christian and I can say with full confidence that what he teaches is NOT what Jesus is about."

~ cutiegirl88

"Pretty much all of the mega church leaders are frauds."

~ usedmotoroil

"I'd say 100% of them. It is anti-Christian. Any excess should be given back to the communities they are in."

"That's why they don't get taxed. But now it's just a grift."

"They don't give a f*ck about anything other than the size of their bank accounts."

~ theshane0314

"Absolutely 100% they are frauds and lying weasels."

"Osteen or Copeland or any of the others who unabashedly pound the pulpit, so to speak, on the 'prosperity gospel'—they have incorporated their sin as their strength in the eyes of their followers and those imbeciles eat it up."

~ Thunderhorse74

* Joel Osteen is an American televangelist, businessman based in Houston, Texas and one of the more prominent figures associated with "prosperity theology" and a focus of its critics.

Joel Osteen GIFGiphy

Filipino Fraudsters

"Bongbong Marcos and his family."

"Their family literally stole billions from the Filipino people yet they are still out of prison. Their family matriarch, Imelda, was even sentenced to prison for graft, but no one dared to arrest her."

"Bongbong is now even president of the Philippines and has a huge cult following because of how they tried to distort history."

~ holyguacamole-

* Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is the second child and only son of former president, kleptocrat and dictator Ferdinand Marcos and former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

The Power Of Motorola Compels You!

"Faith healer and psychic Peter Popoff. The divine voices he heard were actually his wife using a radio."

"He’s still selling his 'Miracle Water'."

~ SnooChipmunks126

"Popoff was exposed in an investigation on a news show.

"He 'retired to a quiet life of contemplation' when it aired which everyone knew was horsesh*t."

"A couple years later he’s back grifting."

~ Renaissance_Slacker

* Peter George Popoff is a German-born American televangelist, charlatan, debunked clairvoyant and faith healer.

faith healer GIFGiphy

No, Vaccines Don't Cause Autism

"Andrew Wakefield, who was trying to get his own vaccine approved, so he tried to make it look like another vaccine was a problem."

"He did research without getting proper consent, falsified results, and so on."

"He's become the darling of the vaccines-cause-autism crowd, even though his behavior was so egregious that he lost his medical license."

~ DrHugh

"Oh it's so much worse. Wakefield's alternative vaccine (cofounded by a quack who didn't have a medical license, believed he could cure autism with his bone marrow, and had his name spelled wrong on the patent) was a cash-grab, to capitalise further on the greater scheme."

"He was paid to discredit the MMR vaccine by a lawyer who recognised the amount of money there was in suing the manufacturer on behalf of concerned parents, in collaboration with a then-small group of parents who believed it made their children autistic (called "JABS") who have since rocketed in popularity as a direct result of the whole debacle."

"Wakefield lost his license primarily because he did not receive informed consent for procedures. Not only did the handouts he gave to the parents not even mention all the procedures performed, but they did not mention risks. The handouts literally do not contain the word 'risk'."

"He also lied. A lot. Like, the results of his study were shaky at best, and half of them were just completely made up."

"Oh, and giving colonoscopies to children ended up being a horrible idea, because one of them got a perforated bowel. He f*cked up that kid's life forever. It's... disgusting."

"Autism isn't actually that bad. And it's kinda disgusting that it was being treated as something worth risking actual death to avoid.

"Also, the head of Andrew Wakefield's hospital at the time of his departure (when he got fired because his colleagues got sick of his sh*t) went on to describe him as, quote, 'a Wanker and a Fraud'."

~ Otherversian-Elite

How Is He—either one—Still A Thing?

"Logan Paul. This really annoys me. The dude has been called out for multiple crypto scams and yet I still see his sh*tty energy drink all over grocery stores and gas stations.

"I really hope he goes down for real."

~ Zelgon

"It's crazy that he even still has a following after everything he's said and done."

"People were actually cheering and rooting for him in his recent scammer vs scammer joke of a boxing match."

~ labwongames

"The world isn't running out of unattended 5-10 year olds with iPads anytime soon. That's why he still has a following."

"Or am I thinking of Jake Paul? Eh, two sh*ts, same a**hole."

~ The-Mighty-Caz

"When I taught middle school several of my students were huge fans of Logan or Jake Paul. They’d come to school in their merch and listen to their sh*tty music while they did class work."

~ SadandBougie

* Logan Paul—once called "the face of douchebag entitlement" and Jake Paul—known for prank videos—are brothers and American YouTubers who started out posting sketches on Vine.

Paul brothers GIFGiphy

"Multi-Level Marketing (MLMs). The vast majority of people who sign up for them make very little and a significant number lose money."

"And yet, they're everywhere."

~ LadyMageCOH

"99% of MLM sellers lose money. It’s only those at the very top that actually make anything at all."

"It’s such a scam and a fraud!"

~ greens_beans_queen

"That's why they used to be called pyramid schemes. They came up with the term MLM to make it sound better."

~ Bijorak


"Donald Trump/MAGA… the guy has over 50 felony charges and civil cases for fraud and rape and still has followers?"

"It’s cuckoo bananas."

"He is a con artist… and it’s so glaringly obvious!"

~ Acceptable-Bullfrog1

"I try not to be Trump this Trump that, but this is what immediately came to mind."

"He’s not good at business. He’s not good at being president. He’s oblivious to rules he doesn’t want to observe. They think he’s Christian and like, when have you seen him going to church even to fake it?

Everything he does is as obvious as his fake tan that makes him look like Magda (MAGAda? 😃) from Something About Mary.

"His MAGA minions claim they’re these shrewd people that show up on the car lot and get exactly what they want for less than it’s worth when really they’re the type to show up on the lot and leave with a Hummer they don’t need and can’t afford."

~ Orgasmic_interlude

Donald Trump GIFGiphy

In the words of Carl Sagan:

"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle."
"We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth."
"The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken."
"Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

~ Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

What proven frauds, scammers and grifters would you add to the list?