Tuesday 1 August 2006

I'll give you six beans for that cow.

Rob has spotted .... Actually, is there any point in my ever linking to Rob? Does anyone read my blog who doesn't already read his anyway? Well, it's something to do, I suppose. So, anyway, yes... he's spotted this rather wonderful story:

Woman sought in Magic Cheese scam

Oh yes.

A French woman, Madame Gilberte van Erpe, has pulled off one of the biggest cons in Chilean history. The Chileans are now trying to extradite her from Paris.

People were persuaded to buy a powder which they could allegedly turn into "Magic Cheese", said to make skin look younger and to be highly valuable.


According to the police in Santiago [Madame Gilberte van Erpe] told people that "Magic Cheese" was the latest fashion in France, where women used it as a skin cosmetic to fight the effects of ageing.

As Rob says, "it all sounded so convincingly plausible".

The fraud consisted of selling people packs of Yo Flex powder that was said to be the raw ingredient of the magic cream.

According to reports, victims of the scam believed they only had to mix the powder with milk, to ferment the "Magic Cheese".

They were told they could then sell the cheese to a company, which would export it to France, where it would be sold on to French women at a premium.

For people to fall for this nonsense, they first had to believe three things: firstly, that women will put any old crap on their faces if the cosmetics industry tells them to; secondly, that the cosmetics industry is subject to really stupid fads; thirdly, that fashion-conscious French people are willing to pay through the nose to do stupid things. Hmm.

At the height of the scam, a pack of Yo Flex sold for $500, but chemical analysis determined that the powder was a food supplement used in Africa, with a street value of just $4.

Do food supplements have street value? I thought the whole point of street value was that it applies to things that can only be bought on the street, because they're illegal. Surely this stuff simply had a value. Unless, of course, this is an aspect of African culture I was unaware of: the thriving food supplement black market. I can just imagine being approached by a shady character in the streets of Niamey: "Psst! Buddy! Want to buy some riboflavin?"

But I digress.

More than 20,000 Peruvians and 6,000 Chileans were reportedly duped.

Bloody hell. That's a lot of people who believe that French women are stupid.

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