Suppose someone offered to sell you Aladdin’s Lamp (complete with real, actual genie*), for $200,000. Would you maybe be a little skeptical? Or would you say “OH YEAH, Imma be a $%@#^*# billionaire”? Well, at least one doctor in India opted for the latter.
*not cartoon Robin Williams genie, and not blue painted Will Smith genie; but a real actual supernatural creature with magic powers genie or djinn
Let’s say you decide to go for it. But you’re a very clever* person, so you figure, “hey, I don’t need to pay the whole $200k up front… I get THREE WISHES of ANY DAMN THING I WANT, so I’ll put a down payment and then use a wish to pay for the rest” and you manage to get the seller to agree to sell you Aladdin’s Lamp for a deposit in the low, low amount of merely $41,600. Seems legit.
*but not really all that clever because you believe that magic is (a) totally real and (b) for sale from some random dudes in India
Spoiler Alert: there was no actual genie. (if you are very clever, you might have guessed this plot twist because magic is not real and neither are genies; but if you didn’t, stay tuned there are more opportunities to spot super-obvious frauds coming up) This little gem of a story comes to us courtesy of BBC. A doctor in Meerut, a city in the Western part of India’s state of Uttar Pradesh filed a complaint with police. The doctor had been treating the mother of the two scammers. “Gradually they started telling me about a baba [a baba is an Indian holy man or godman] whom they claimed also visited their home. They started brainwashing me and asked me to meet this baba.” Clearly, an auspicious start to a business relationship. The baba indeed did seem to perform some sort of rituals. I’m not clear on what rituals this baba performed, or whether they were particularly impressive rituals for a baba (or how this might have differed from the typical rituals of a baba?), or anything like that…? Full disclosure: the extent of my knowledge on Indian babas comes more or less exclusively from Karl Pilkington. Anyway, the story of the Aladdin-baba gets better. Apparently, the doctor began visiting the baba and “during one visit ‘Aladdin’ actually made an appearance in front of me” Spoiler Alert: it was not actually Aladdin. (if  you are very clever, you might have guessed that from (a) the quotes around ‘Aladdin’ in the quote above; or, if you didn’t notice that, you might have equally guessed it from (b) the fact that Aladdin is either entirely fictional or a fictionalization of a real person who died a thousand-plus years ago; six of one or half a dozen of the other, I guess.) The “Aladdin” was in fact one of the two scammers, dressed up as Aladdin. Some Indian media reports are claiming that THE TWO MEN ALSO PRETENDED TO CONJURE UP THE GENIE FROM THE LAMP. I’m not really sure why I put that in all caps, as we’re already at absurdity level 9,000. And again, it has to be restated… the victim was a Medical Doctor. He was an apparently well-educated dude. Spoiler Alert: the “Genie” was not actually a Genie. It was apparently the mom’s (his patient’s) husband(?)(!!) Note: that link has a picture that I think is the actual lamp? Worth the click, y’all. (to be clear, the actual lamp that was involved in the fraud, not actual Aladdin’s lamp… but if you have a picture of actual Aladdin’s lamp, please comment below. I probably will not, however, pay you $200k (or even a $41k down payment) for it. The Indian media reports that “However, later, the doctor realized that he was being cheated.” It’s not clear what was so far beyond the line of plausibility that he finally realized he was being cheated. Because  it wasn’t, you know, the magical creature he was allegedly being sold, the literal fictional character that looked sort of like his friend appearing to him, or the genie who looked sort of like his patient’s husband appearing to him. I’d really like to know what it was that caused this guy to FINALLY say “now wait just a minute, this is starting to get suspicious.” Another gem from Indian media:
According to the doctor, the Tantrik and his friend would often make him see a ‘jinn’ appearing from the magical lamp. But, they never allowed him to take it home saying that touching it would be ominous for him.
They would often make him see a jinn. Not once but often. Like, “Oh hey Bob, good to see you again. Check out this supernatural magical creature that grants wishes just chilling in my living room. Oh, I showed it to you before? Well check it out again, it’s totally not fake. If you want to buy it, we can do a payment plan. Not sure? No big deal, it will be here next time you come over too.” Just, WHAT? No word on what sort of charges are being filed against these two geniuses. But actually, they’re probably pretty good salesmen. And if you live in India, one of the scam capitals of the world, and don’t see this kind of thing coming…. I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe they should add a course on “magical creatures” to the medical school curriculum? I’m sure you could nab Hagrid for a visiting professorship; he’s probably unemployed now that the Harry Potter film series has come to a close. You can’t make this stuff up. Stay safe out there, folks. And, if someone offers to sell you a genie, chimera, griffin, pegasus, elf, phoenix, mermaid, boogieman, vampire, zombie, dragon, hydra, bigfoot, sasquatch, fairy, chupacabra, centaur, gnome, cockatrice, leprechaun, imp, manticore, troll, ogre, sphinx, goblin, or any similar creatures…. its probably not real and you should call the cops, lest you become famous for the wrong reasons.