Comet Kohoutek Scam
1973 – Madison, WI
As Comet Kohoutek approached in 1973, Eddie Ben Elson announced that a beautiful, black, womanly angel had revealed to him that Kohoutek was actually an intergalactic spaceship and he was a “Chosen One” because of the goodness of his heart, and would be its captain.

The comet was to destroy Earth on Christmas Day as it’s tail brushed the planet turning everything to oil and covering the globe with sludge, but 144,000 lucky passengers would be saved. Elson was selling tickets for salvation. He printed 1,000 that identified him as “Your Savior, Edward Ben Elson, Messiah of the Odd Infinitum Church” The 144,000 people, after buying tickets, would be magically shrunk to miniature human beings and stored in bushel baskets in the basement of Elson's home until it was time for Kohoutek to beam them up.

Tickets could be brought for a mere $10. In the last week, he raised prices to $100. When asked if that would mean that only the monied and privileged would be the ones who could afford the tickets, he replied “Even Noah let snakes and lizards on the ark”

Once, when pressed by a reporter to show him the stash of miniaturized ticket holders in his basement, he promised to call back in a couple of hours. He did. “You won't believe this! My greedy wife has sold them all to a Belleville Cadillac dealer for use as hood ornaments.”

When the big day arrived, Eddie was in his backyard in McFarland with a portable stairway rented from Northwest Airlines. As sundown approached, Eddie climbed the stairs, looked skyward and waited. And waited. A reporter said “Eddie, where is the comet?” Eddie replied “Comet? What comet?”

The stunt got him in Time Magazine and landed him on the TV show "Real People" in 1979. Later “Real People” invited him back for a guest reunion show. Elson couldn't make it, but he sent a stand-in, a nuclear engineering student named Si-Ahmed, who looked a lot like Eddie. The imposter had a great time on NBC's nickel. Network executives were not amused and threatened a lawsuit. “They were absolutely outraged. But what the heck. I was just up to the same old thing.”

Another story involving Lawyer Eddie Ben Elson