You know, sometimes I really think that I should give up this law thing and shift careers into a bilker of the faithful. It's so damn easy and the fleeced flock so rarely gets pissed, even after they've been swindled.
Case in point, the several scandals in which alleged oil speculators bilk naive rubes out of millions to search for oil in Israel (via PZ). Why, you may wonder, would righteous Christians care to drill for oil in the Holy Land?
It is widely believed among evangelical Christians (and some Orthodox Jews) that Scripture foretells a massive oil find in the Holy Land; prophecy buffs are especially captivated by a passage in Ezekiel that says Armageddon will be triggered by a band of nations—Russia, Iran, and a confederacy of Arab countries are most often named as the likely suspects—attacking Israel to 'take a great spoil.' Their faith has spurred a sprawling, decades-long treasure hunt. At least 10 companies or individuals have searched for oil in Israel using biblical clues. So far, few of the more than 400 wells drilled there have turned up commercial quantities of oil and gas. But the willingness of ordinary churchgoers to invest their life savings has kept the ventures going—and made the business rich terrain for a bevy of false prophets, penny-stock hustlers, and con men.It's hard to figure out who comes out worse in this story - the con men taking advantage of religious rubes, or the rubes who willingly fork over millions to try and bring about the end of the world.