The Truth About Cars » hoax http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:37:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » hoax http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Quote Of The Day: Life In The Fast Lane http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/quote-of-the-day-life-in-the-left-lane/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/quote-of-the-day-life-in-the-left-lane/#comments Mon, 15 Mar 2010 05:17:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=348943

“I rented a Toyota for the week. I noticed when travelling in the left lane that everyone moved over to the right to let me pass. Not a single foo slowed me down. With its current reputation, the Toyota hardly needs brakes.”

Comment entered by “charenton” on Mar 14, 2010 in response to Reuters story headlined “Investigation questions Prius driver’s story: report”

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The Sikes Aftermath: Lead Balloon Boy Going Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/the-sikes-aftermath-lead-balloon-boy-going-down/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/the-sikes-aftermath-lead-balloon-boy-going-down/#comments Sun, 14 Mar 2010 14:20:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=348920

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A few days ago, James Sikes and his runaway Prius was all over news. Until we mentioned that something is fishy. Sikes’ driving skills were put in question. Stories about a wife swapping website emerged. Stories about bankruptcy. Stories about an unpaid lease on the Prius. And sundry other stories. Quickly, Sikes turned into Balloon Boy 2.0

Michael Fumento, director of the Independent Journalism Project, went on Neil Cavuto’s show on Fox Business and said: “It appears that everybody on planet earth suspected that there was something horribly wrong with this picture – except for the national media. The real hoax wasn’t James Sikes, it was in fact our press.”

On his own blog, Fumento fumed at the press: “To test his claim that he actually reached down and tried to pull the accelerator up but it wouldn’t budge I did something that apparently occurred to no other reporter in the country. I actually got in a 2008 Prius to see if it was physically possible to reach that far. I couldn’t get anywhere close. An orangutan could, but whatever Mr. Sikes is, that doesn’t seem to describe him.”

The real blame is on the press, says Fumento: “The red flags were popping up right from the beginning and the media ignored them because they wanted to ignore them. There’s a Toyota feeding frenzy going on and reporters just want their chunk.”

Well, now they dropped the video, and it looks like their editors sic them on Sikes.

The Wall Street Journal [sub] reports that “the investigation of the vehicle, carried out jointly by safety officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota engineers, didn’t find signs the brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, the three people familiar with the investigation said.

The brakes were discolored and showed wear, but the pattern of friction suggested the driver had intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes, these people said, adding the investigation didn’t find indicators of the heavy pressure described by Mr. Sikes.”

As we vividly remember, ABC had led the “let’s burn Toyota on the stake” faction with the Gilbert video that subsequently turned out as a fake. Now, as the tide turns against Sikes, ABC goes with the flow: “A memo drafted for a congressional panel says the Toyota Prius involved in a California runaway car incident performed exactly as it is designed to in tests trying to replicate the situation…The memo says that each time the technician floored the gas pedal and hit the brake at the same time, the car shut off as it is designed to do.” ABC got ahold of Patty Sikes who complained that “the couple’s lives have been turned upside down and they are getting death threats.”

According to CBS News “a congressional spokesman said the finding casts doubt on the driver’s story.”

Looks like Sikes won’t testify.

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FOX: Is Sikes A Balloon Boy? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/fox-is-sikes-a-balloon-boy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/fox-is-sikes-a-balloon-boy/#comments Fri, 12 Mar 2010 17:47:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=348750

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Two days ago, Ed Niedermeyer received a tip from an anonymous tipster that James Sikes, the guy who couldn’t stop his runaway Prius until a cop pulled up next to him and told him to, is, well, a bit exposed.

The tipster pointed out that a James Sikes had also started a business called Adultswinglife, LLC. A look at the phone numbers showed that Adult Swing Life LLC (619) 957-7355 shared the same phone number as the real estate business of Patty & Jim Sikes (619)-957-7355. We left it at that. Times are rough, and one needs to find extra streams of income.

A few hours later, an anonymous poster that went by the name “CincyJazzy” posted on the CBS news website that Sikes “is caught in 2 attempts to defraud his insurance company out of $60K, Just lost his house, and was fired for ‘unethical behavior’, in the middle of bankruptcy, and now this.” No reaction from CBS.

Then, nothing. Until ...Yesterday, Jalopnik was on the story. First, they had not much else to report than the swinger site. One of the Jalopnik commenters pointed out that Jalopnik has “a sibling site” called Fleshbot (definitely NSFW), so who’s to throw the first stone? That didn’t deter the Jalops. They kept on digging.

Through adroit use of Google, they found that someone had posted on Hobbub.com that in a foreclosed house, previously owned by a Jim and Patti Sikes, ”before giving possession back to the bank ‘someone’ stole the ENTIRE kitchen out of the house……….Granite countertops, cabinets, appliances and even the lights!”

Jalopnik decided that something was fishy, and, Fleshbot be damned, they called up their colleagues at Gawker. They fired up their public records search engine – and found a – by Jalopnik standards – morass of incriminating information about Sikes.

This led to the Jalopnik headline “Did Bankrupt Runaway Prius Driver Fake “Unintended Acceleration?” They unearthed a bankruptcy filing that allegedly (it was redacted) said that the Sikes “have a combined liability of over $700,000 dollars in debt.” According to the document, Toyota Financial Services was named as a creditor to the tune of $20,494, owed at the time of bankruptcy. Jalopnik contrasted this to an email they received from Jim Sikes that claims “we are and have always been up to date on all payments.”

Then, Jalopnik heard “rumors that Sikes has a history of items in his possession being stolen and him filing for insurance claims.” The bankruptcy documents named a saxophone and clothes, stolen from a car (of unnamed provenance) with a value of $2500, and an insurance payment of $7.500.

After that, all hell broke loose. Fox News “uncovered a new business that Sikes appears to have started: the website AdultSwingLife.com.” (Well, they didn’t uncover it, it was the anonymous tipster, but hey, it’s Fox.) We would have expected some on-premises candid camera work, but no. Fox did their own internet search and found more dirt on Sikes:

“In 2001, Sikes filed a police report with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department for $58,000 in stolen property, including jewelry, a prosumer mini-DV camera and gear, and $24,000 in cash.” Sikes seems to be a victim type.

Fox found “a neighbour near Sikes’ former home in Atwater” who said “I’m not surprised [if] he’d try to get money.”

Fox also found “a spokesperson with Toyota” who told FOX40 News “they’re aware of Sikes’ background.” (Hmmmmmm.)

The breathtaking piece of investigative reporting brings Fox to the conclusion: “While the California Highway Patrol doesn’t question his story, bloggers and radio listeners are wondering whether this is another ‘balloon boy’ style hoax, done for the publicity or the money.”

Ever since, speculations of a hoax by a couple with a salacious sidebusiness are all over the web and social network sites. What took them so long? (Hat tip to Jalopkink: In 10 minutes on Public Records, they found more than Fox in a day.)

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