Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Did California bride fake terminal cancer for ‘dream wedding’ donations?

    Jessica Vega (Photo credit: Times Herald-Record )Twenty-five-year-old Jessica Vega is facing multiple felony charges after she allegedly faked a case of terminal cancer in order to get a free "dream wedding" and honeymoon.

    The Times Herald-Record reports New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderm announced on Monday that an Orange County Grand Jury has indicted Vega on five counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud.

    Vega, who had been living in New York until the indictment, has been extradited to authorities in California.

    "By pretending to have a terminal illness, Vega inexcusably took advantage of the community's hearts and minds, and profited off of their generosity," Attorney Schneiderman said. "Our office will hold this individual accountable for fleecing the public through lies and deception."

    In 2010, Vega claimed to be dying from acute myeloid leukemia and wanted to marry fiancé Michael O'Connell, the father of her child. Friends, family and total strangers rushed to support Vega, giving her a $1,200 wedding dress, wedding rings and even flowers for her wedding reception. The couple was then treated to a free honeymoon in Aruba.

    [ Video: How an 'Accidental Entrepreneur' Grew Business, Helped Cancer Victims ]

    However, it appears O'Connell was not in on the alleged fraud.  When he contacted Dr. Dan Costin about Vega's treatment, he was told she had never been a patient. O'Connell then reached out to the Times Herald-Record to explain that the illness was likely a fake. The couple was divorced shortly after Vega was exposed. But in an even stranger twist, the couple is now once again reunited and has had  a second child together.

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  • Three Baltimore school employees split Mega Millions jackpot

    (Image credit: Maryland Lottery)

    Two Maryland public school teachers and a school administrator have claimed the second of three Mega Millions jackpot tickets, according to officials.

    The self-described "Three Amigos" say they plan to purchase new homes, start children's college funds and organize trips to Europe. Their winning was one of three jackpot tickets sold for the record-breaking $656 million jackpot awarded on March 30.

    "If it can't be you, these people are precisely the people you would want to see win," said Maryland Lottery director Stephen Martino.

    The three winners have chosen to remain anonymous but did allow the lottery officials to reveal some details about them. All three reportedly currently work multiple jobs just to pay their monthly bills. Even with their newfound fortunes, all three told Martino that they would keep their jobs at the school. "One said 'I can't give up on my kids,'" he said.

    Martino said the three winners did indulge in a laugh over Marlinde Wilson, who has infamously claimed to have purchased the winning ticket and stashed it inside a Baltimore-area McDonald's. Wilson has reportedly retracted her story.

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  • iBrain can ‘read your mind’; enlists Stephen Hawking

    A team of California scientists have developed the world's first portable brain scanner, and it may soon be able to "read a person's mind," playing a major role in facilitating medical breakthroughs.

    "This is very exciting for us because it allows us to have a window into the brain. We're building technology that will allow humanity to have access to the human brain for the first time," said the project's leader, Phillip Low.

    KGTV reports that the device, created by San Diego-based NeuroVigil, and dubbed the iBrain, fits over a person's head and measures unique neurological patterns connected to specific thought processes.

    Low says the goal is to eventually have a large enough database of these brainwaves that a computer could essentially read a person's thoughts out loud. One person who has already tried out the iBrain is famed physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking.

    "We'd like to find a way to bypass his body, pretty much hack his brain," said Low. This past summer, Low traveled to Cambridge,

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  • Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion

    Zuckerberg (Yahoo/Phoebe Connelly)

    A picture is worth a thousand words, but a popular photo-sharing app is worth far more: Facebook announced it is purchasing Instagram for $1 billion.

    To put the sale in perspective, the Wall Street Journal's Dennis K. Berman tweeted: "Remember this day. 551-day-old Instagram is worth $1 billion. 116-year-old New York Times Co.: $967 million."

    The purchase of the San Francisco-based photo-sharing app is the largest financial acquisition in Facebook's history and is being made in cash. The deal will be completed by June, according to the AP.

    "This is an important milestone for Facebook because it's the first time we've ever acquired a product and company with so many users," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. "We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all."

    In a move to reassure Instagram's growing audience of users, Facebook announced that it will continue to let Instagram operate independently. However, Facebook is hiring Instagram's 10 employees.

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  • UFO or hoax? Aerial video over South Korea stirs speculation

    A new video has surfaced that some claim shows a saucer-shaped UFO zooming past the window of a passenger airplane flying over Seoul, South Korea.

    In the video, the unidentified passenger is filming the otherwise uneventful view from the plane's window. Suddenly he makes a startled sound as the white saucer-like image comes into view.

    Later in the video, the purported UFO image is magnified. Ultimately, it looks more like an ivory colored bowler hat than a piece of futuristic flying technology. Is this just bad computer-generated imagery (CGI) and a cheap hoax from a prankster or a genuine unidentified object caught on film?

    [ Video: Palm-sized Star Trek tech may be closer than you think ]

    The same writer who speculates on the origin of this object also recently wrote about video taken from one of NASA's live video feeds. In that video, three objects in a triangle formation appear on screen about five minutes into the video. Someone from NASA chimes in to say the object is actually a piece of foil, aka space junk, and that its reflection is giving the appearance of three objects in a triangle formation.

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  • ‘The Hipster Games’: ‘Hunger Games’ video spoof goes viral

    "The Hunger Games," the film that topped the U.S. box office for the third weekend in a row with $33.5 million, has inspired plenty of parodies. But this onepitting hipsters from Portland, Austin, Brooklyn, Oakland and Silver Lake, Calif., in a dystopian fight to the deathmay be the best.

    [ Video: Sketchy and Yahoo! Comedy present 'Hungry Games' ]

    The three-minute video, directed by Christopher Guerrero and produced by Wyoma Films, has been viewed more than 100,000 times since it was uploaded last week. Watch it now before it achieves critical, cultural mass.

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  • Bone Pugz video creator Abby Koocher talks to Yahoo News about going viral

    BONE PUGZ from Bone Pugz on Vimeo.

    "My 15-year-old self would probably be having a great panic attack."

    Abby Koocher, creator of the brilliant Bone Pugz video that is taking the Internet by storm, has given an exclusive interview to Yahoo News. (Warning: contains some NSFW language)

    In her video, Koocher uses four pug dogs to recreate, shot by shot, the 1995 video 1st of Tha Month by 1990's R&B superstars Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

    "I'm a huge fan of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and a child of the 90's," Koocher tells us. "And I really love miniature things and animals."

    Koocher, 30, a television producer and director in New York City, says for several years she and her friends had made a pun on the musical group's name. But it was only recently that the spark of her play on words ("Bone Pugz") turned into something far more imaginative.

    "I was sitting around with some friends talking about how it would be an amazing thing to shoot," she said.

    "About a month ago, I put out a call on Facebook to see if I can even get this many pugs."

    Unsure what kind of response she'd get, Koocher was thrilled when her friend Lisa Rubin offered the services of five adorable pugs.

    Koocher then organized a team of human contributors. "I asked a small team of people whom I love and trust, including my two close friends from Sarah Lawrence College, Ashley Friedman and Chloe Seldman," she said.

    So, what exactly would Koocher say if contacted by one of the members of the group?

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  • U.S. Navy jet crashes in Virginia; 2 pilots ejected, 9 taken to hospital

    Latest developments [5:45 pm EST]

    • Nine people taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries; all but one have been released
    • Search for victims is about halfway complete
    • Pilots reportedly safe and conscious
    • Fuel dumped before crash likely avoided, "massive fireball"

    Officials have confirmed that a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet has crashed in Virginia after taking off from U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana, with the two pilots believed to have ejected before impact.

    U.S. Navy Captain Mark Weisgerber has confirmed that the jet suffered a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction," shortly after takeoff but has not released specifics of what may have caused the crash. Weisgerber said that both pilots are reportedly conscious and "doing well."

    There are currently no reports of fatalities on the ground. Several photos have emerged from the crash, showing the wreckage and black smoke rising from nearby buildings. Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has said that rescue crews have completed a search of two of the five buildings impacted by the crash.

    Virginia Beach EMS division chief Bruce Nedelka said several witnesses saw the pilots dumping fuel from the jet before ejecting, which likely avoided a massive fireball and fire.

    Yahoo News has made several calls to the Virginia Fire Department but has been unable to obtain an official statement. In an interview with CBS News, Tim Riley of the Virginia Beach Fire Department said:

    "We are confirming that there is one aircraft from Oceana that has crashed into the apartment behind us. Both pilots were transported to a local hospital and both were conscious, that's all I'm going to report on that."

    "In the apartment complex we do not have any confirmation yet of injuries. We are still in the stages of extinguishing the fire and we have to do some extensive searches in those buildings."

    Riley said the department is working on an unified press release that will be issued to the public shortly.

    Additional updates posted after the jump...

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  • Maryland offering $200 gift card for dead snakehead fish

    (AP/Ed Wray)

    Getting paid to fish sounds like a dream come true to some. But does it have the same appeal if you're going up against a "fish from hell" that can travel on land and sink its teeth into a steel-toed boot?

    The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries (DNR) is hoping so and is offering a $200 gift card through Bass Pro Shops to one lucky resident who captures and kill a snakehead, an invasive species from Africa that is upsetting the natural order of the local ecosystem. The winner will be selected through a randomly lottery conducted by the DNR.

    "We do not want snakeheads in our waters," DNR Director Don Cosden tells "This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove this invasive species of fish."

    The snakehead was first seen in Maryland back in 2002, after an 18-inch adult was caught in a local pond. But the powerful fish, which has no natural predators in the region, is also a determined survivalist (they can survive for up to four days on land) and has since migrated to the nearby Potomac River and its tributaries.

    It's illegal to sell snakeheads in most U.S. states. But as I reported several years ago, federal agents have uncovered illegal snakehead selling operations in several states, including New York, Texas, Florida and Missouri.

    "We don't expect that anglers will eradicate the snakehead population," DNR Tidal Bass program manager Joe Love told Fox. "We do believe this promotion and inspiration of anglers can help control the snakehead population. The information we gain from the Angler's Log reports are also helpful in assessing the abundance, spread and impact of these feisty fish."

    To qualify for one of the $200 gift cards and an assortment of other prizes, all you have to do is upload a photo of yourself with a dead snakehead to the DNR's Angler's Log site. The only complicated part is actually capturing and killing one of the "fish from hell."

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  • Family claims $130 million in Coke stock sold at garage sale

    (AP/Coca-Cola Co.)

    In 2008, Tony Marohn visited a local estate sale where he paid a "nominal amount" for an antique oil stock certificate. And now, Marohn's family is suing soda giant Coca-Cola, saying the certificate entitles them to 1.8 million shares of the company's stock, worth an estimated $130 million.

    Marohn passed away in 2010, but not before tracing the history of the stock certificate from Palmer Union Oil Co. to Coca-Cola. Reuters reports that Marohn made the connection through a series of now-defunct companies, including Petrocarbon Chemicals Inc. and Taylor Wine Co.

    Coca-Cola countersued Marohn in 2009, telling Delaware's Chancery Court that he was not entitled to its company stock.

    "The claim of Mr. Marohn's estate that it is entitled to millions of dollars in Coca-Cola stockbased on a canceled stock certificate for a long-defunct oil company purchased at an estate saleis meritless and unfair to the Company's millions of legitimate shareholders," Coca-Cola said in a statement released Thursday.

    But if you disagree and think the Marohn's have a case, you can actually still purchase stock shares of the long-since defunct company. A certificate for 100 shares of Palmer Union Oil stock is currently selling for just $25.

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