Three men were convicted in August in Kansas City, Mo., of having convinced "numerous" customers to buy 3-inch-by-4-inch laminated "diplomat" cards that, promoters said, would legally free them from ever having to pay taxes or being arrested for any crime. According to the FBI, customers ponied up fees ranging from $450 to $2,000 to get the cards.
Dr. Yehu Azaz, a wealthy, respected physician, gave up his career in 1991 and gave away all of his possessions, coming under the spell of guru Rena Denton's spiritual healing center in Somerset, England. In a 2009 lawsuit to recover his wealth, Azaz said that despite being an educated professional, he did not realize what he had done until 2003 because he had been brainwashed ("unduly influenced") by the aged guru. (A judge tossed out his lawsuit in July.)