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8/19/2008
03:59 PM
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Bigfoot Hoax Called A 'Scheme To Defraud'

A Bigfoot hunting group says it was scammed by two men -- one of whom is a former police officer.

A Bigfoot hunting group that last week set the Internet abuzz with claims it had found the body of one of the legendary creatures now says it was the victim of a hoax.

Members of Searching For Bigfoot Inc. revealed Tuesday that they had paid "an undisclosed sum" to two individuals for the rights to control publicity related to a dead Bigfoot that the duo claimed to have found in the woods of northern Georgia.

Searching For Bigfoot now says it was defrauded by the two men -- Ricky Dyer and Mathew Whitton, who is a former police officer.

A statement on the group's Web site, SearchingForBigfoot.com, says members Tom Biscardi and Robert Schmalzbach examined the supposed Sasquatch's frozen remains for the first time on Sunday, two days after holding a press conference to announce the find, only to discover it was a fake.

"Within the next hour of thaw, a break appeared up near the feet area. ... I observed the foot which looked unnatural, reached in and confirmed it was a rubber foot," wrote Steve Kulls, a self-described "Sasquatch detective" who accompanied Biscardi and Schmalzbach during their examination of the body.

Kulls, writing on SearchingForBigfoot.com, said the group later on Sunday attempted to recover their money from Dyer and Whitton, but claimed the two men had already fled a California hotel room where they had been staying.

Dyer and Whitton were "complicit in a scheme to defraud," Kulls alleged.

"At this time the victim of this series of deceptions, Searching For Bigfoot, Inc., is seeking justice for themselves and for all the people who were deceived by this deception," he added.

On Friday, more than 200 people attended a press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., at which Searching For Bigfoot members announced that they were in possession of a dead Sasquatch. The group, however, conceded at the time that DNA tests performed on the carcass were, at best, inconclusive.

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