It’s April Fools Day so I’m looking back at the biggest financial pranks in the world, and how they tricked readers into believing some ridiculous things…
We want listeners of this podcast to be better educated about their money matters, so they can make sound financial decisions.
Some of the financial pranks we share in this episode are hilarious, like the idea of a ‘money tree’ or a ‘senior mattress tester’, but past just being funny they remind us to be critical of what we read.
It’s important to remember if it sounds too good or too bad to be true it probably is, always do your research, and question everything…
“This Yenem Tree sprung forth 1 dollar bills, there was a mutation which made the tree produce perfectly flawless 5 dollar bills.” – Ben Jones
00:28 – The origins of April Fools Day.
01:58 – A famous British financial prank.
02:46 – How Elon Musk’s prank made his company’s shares drop by 5%.
03:37 – How Danish citizens got tricked into thinking their money was fake.
04:18 – The existence of a real-life money tree.
05:14 – The macroeconomics theme park the Economist convinced readers they were creating.
06:31 – The Indian ‘senior mattress tester’ job offer.
07:15 – The fake savings account offered by the Sunday Telegraph.
08:29 – The chocolate account offered by the Saffron Building Society.
09:23 – The CFP program and helping people reduce financial risk.
09:51 – Thumb insurance for social media addicts.
Connect with Ben Jones:
April Fool’s!! Today is the sometimes infamous day, where we play jokes or pranks on unsuspecting individuals. We don’t think jokes about money are funny, most of the time, but with a few clicks, we found a few that we thought you might find interesting.
First, the Origins of April Fools’ Day is shrouded in a bit of mystery, but since so many people enjoy a bit of a laugh, it appears it will be around for quite some time. Some historians believe it dates back to 1582, which is when France switched to the Julian calendar, which starts with a “J”, like January from the Gregorian calendar. Funny fact, since Easter is only a couple days away, the original goal of the Gregorian calendar was to change the date of Easter. A miscalculation of the solar calendar by 11 minutes, pushed Easter further away from the Spring Equinox each year which wasn’t good.
Anyway, back to the story… historians speculate that with the change in calendar, it moved the new year from the Spring Equinox around April 1st to January 1st. So, those who failed to realize the change and continued to celebrate the New Year in April became the butt of a lot of jokes and hoaxes. They were called “April Fools”, and one prank is having a paper fish placed on your back and referred to as a “Poisson D’Avril”, which is an April Fish in French. It symbolized that you were a “young, easily caught fish and a gullible person”.
So, do you think you might fall for any of these financial pranks? Let’s test your skills…
The “Purrrrrrfect” prank happened in the UK, when the online financial arm of the “Mail” came up with an unbelievable prank to infuriate British cat lovers. It said it had confidential access to some European Court papers that would levy a tax on cats on any owner in England and Wales. It was around $60, but you would receive a cat license which had a picture of your favorite pet, as proof you paid your tax and did the right thing. Hey, you could hide a cat and not pay, right? I can only imagine how many people got angry over the tax, before it became known that it was all a hoax.
The Brits aren’t the only one with a sense of humor. We’ve spoken several times about Elon Musk, you know, the founder of Tesla, PayPal, SpaceX and others. If you aren’t aware, he likes to tweet out messages that have gotten him into trouble in the past. A handful of years ago, he tweeted a series of items, that started with an “important piece of news in a few hours” and announced his impending bankruptcy, and ending with Elon apparently lying unconscious on a Tesla Model 3. Hey, if you thought this would’ve had an affect on any of his business dealings, you might have sold your stock. Tesla dropped 5% on the news, as it was thought people believed the tweet for a while, but no worries, it bounced back about 4% the next day after the truth came out that all was fine and he was just joking.
About 30 years, in Denmark, the Danish government issued a 20 Kroner bill that had two sparrows on it. One of them was “lame”, which meant it didn’t have the ability to use one of it’s limbs, which was a leg, because it was missing it on the bill. A Danish newspaper thought this was too good to pass up. It said all of the bills that had the bird with only one leg were fake. The National Bank of Denmark was inundated with people lined up to exchange their bills for “REAL” ones, until they found out it was simply an April Fool’s joke. Hey, don’t mess with my money, honey.
In the US, before I was born, there was a magazine called the “View” that wrote a story about a rare ‘Yenom Tree’ that sprung forth $1 bills. It also spoke about a mutation that occurred that year, which made the tree produce perfectly flawless $5 bills. The tree was grown by a person from Appleton, Wisconsin named Loo Flirpa. Let me say that again. Loo Flirpa, that’s “L O O F L I R P A”. It was said that they would sell the tree’s seedlings to the US mint, to obviously harvest the money. Soon, people realized that when you read the name Loo Flirpa backwards, it actually spelled April Fool.
The Economist is a well-respected, financial magazine known all over the world. So, when the magazine writes about something, it’s simply taken at face value and believed for whatever the content. Well, maybe this time, people should’ve slowed down a bit. The magazine announced the building of a theme park called “Econoland” in London. It would, quote end quote, “combine the magic of a theme park with the excitement of macroeconomics”. Wow, I would’ve been hooked. But, maybe it doesn’t get you too excited, and that’s ok. The people who read their magazine think a bit like me. It would “appeal to the kid in everyone”, even though children weren’t allowed to come. You could go to the chamber of horrors and tremble at the wailing of distressed debt that couldn’t be paid back. Or you could go to Fiscal Fantasy Land and watch the economy shrivel before your very eyes. Ok, I laughed the whole time I read it. A true financial joke of epic proportions!
Makenna loves to sleep and about a half dozen years ago in India there was an interesting April fool’s joke. A furniture company called “Urban Ladder” posed an advertisement for a ‘senior mattress tester’. It said….”If you’re someone who hates getting out of bed to get to work, this the perfect job for you. As a mattress tester, you’ll get to stay in bed pretty much the entire day and actually get paid for it”. A crazy amount of people happily applied for the job of a lifetime, which called for an “expertise in sleeping under varied conditions’ as well as a ‘complete lack of enthusiasm and drive’. YAAAWNNNNN. That just makes me sleepy…
Back around the turn of the century, there was a Zebra account offered in the UK. I just thought I’d say that with a british accent. For us, it would be a ZEEbra account, which stood for Zero Energy Best Rate Account….Z-E-B-R-A. Hey, who wouldn’t like to get the most interest possible on a savings account. I know I would. The Sunday Telegraph, which is the paper that published it, said it was offered by the British Subsidiary of a Hungarian bank, Loof Lirpa. Does that sound a little familiar. Let me say it again…Loof Lirpa. It said that they could get the high rates, due to a, quote un quote, “Complicated mix of investment vehicles, including swaps, options, futures and pixies”. Pixies? Everybody knows pixies don’t do finance and live in the forest, right? The paper was flooded with calls until it was revealed that Loof Lirpa spelt backwards was April Fool!!
Ok, I have to do this one, as I think Makenna would’ve jumped on this bandwagon without even looking. It was called the “Chocolate Account”. It was set up on April 1st in anticipation of Easter and Mothers Day. It was launched by the Saffron Building Society in the United Kingdom, and it was an account that paid interest in Chocolate of all things. A “building society” provides banking and other financial services to their members, and they’re similar to credit unions as well as savings and loan institutions here in the US, but they’re focused on those in the construction, real estate and coo-op housing. The CEO of the society said that the monthly chocolates can be used to surprise a loved one, given as a gift or simply enjoyed over the course of the month. But, it was just a hoax. So, I’m sorry to say your interest in chocolate may be real, but chocolate as interest isn’t.
As part of the CFP program, we do personal financial planning for people. We focus a fair amount on reducing financial risk in the family. That means insuring yourself against situations that could turn out to be very difficult for your family financially if you have had an accident or your home is destroyed or some other major event. It’s about reducing risk through insurance. Now, a price comparison website chose April 1st to launch an insurance policy that was specifically aimed at social media addicts. Maybe you have one in your family. It was called “Thumb Insurance”, yep insurance on that thing you use to hitchhike. Naill Ferguson, the head of Digits at the company Confused said that the policy protects social media users in the event that one of their thumbs is “Strained, Damaged, Cut or Broken”. Confused.Com also reported that it was offering an emergency thumb kit as well as a 24-hour helpline in the event of thumb soreness. The article continues to explain that it received complaints by the Association of Fingers, stating that the policy is discriminatory to other members of the hand. Ok, I just laughed when I saw this one. Hey, everybody’s humor is different, right?
There you go. A handful of April Fool jokes. The pun was intended. If you learn anything from our podcast is that #1 it’s fun, but we want to be better educated about money matters. Do your homework, and understand if it’s too good (or too bad) to be true, it probably is. But, you have to do your research.
Thanks for being here, and don’t forget to like, subscribe and comment. We LOVE hearing from you, and have a safe and fun April Fools day.
This is dad, signing off. Byeeeeee.