back to article Feds nab granny in moon rock sting

A Californian grandmother was taken down in a sting operation by government agents when she tried to sell a tiny piece of moon rock dust she claims to have owned for nearly four decades. Moon rocks tend to be worth quite a lot, due to their scarcity and the difficulty in getting more of them, and estimates suggest this dust …

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  1. Ross K Silver badge
    WTF?

    Nice To See That...

    ...we've cured cancer and solved world hunger, leaving us time to concentrate on important things like busting grannies for selling bit's of the moon.

    I thought no government could claim them moon (or other planets) as their territory/property?

  2. Martin
    FAIL

    So let me think...

    ...suppose I DID have a stolen moon rock to sell. Would I really consider contacting NASA to try and find a buyer?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      yes i would contact nasa

      Apparently they never went go the moon, it was all a bit of a crock of shit (allegedly).

      They'd should be glad of a moon rock instead bed having to shuttle new ones back.

    2. dssf
      Joke

      Supposing you DID steal it and DID contact NASA to arrange a sale...

      You'd be "off yer rocker", gramps...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Moon dust worth millions?

    Wish I had purchased myself one of those "Buy a piece of land on the moon" xmas presents that seemed to be all the rage a few years ago. I could be a paper multi-billionaire...

  4. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Pint

    Back In The Day...

    ...there was a complete Apollo mission for sale.

    One of my customers proposed buying it and running a commercial flight to bring back moon rocks for sale.

    Say 20 kilos of rocks @2 million per speck.

    That's a lot of beer.

    1. Just Thinking

      Transport costs would be horrendous though.

  5. TwistUrCapBack
    Thumb Down

    men in black

    need a good slap for picking on grannies

  6. codemonkey
    Devil

    All together now...

    because it's fake!

    << leaves

    :D

  7. bitmap animal
    Facepalm

    This is very odd.

    "But how else are they going to credit themselves with how they took it? How do they justify it?"

    I think she is saying that NASA stole it from the moon! I think they can justify it because they went there and got it.

    Her attorney Peter Schlueter said there was "no such law that moon rocks belong to the federal government".

    There probably doesn't need to be. I suspect her husband was technically guilty of employee theft.

    Sounds a little harsh possibly, but that's how I see it.

  8. Mark Reed
    Go

    At this very moment..

    Feds are grinding up said rock and mixing it into a gel... (Do I play too much Portal 2?)

    1. Liam Johnson

      re: guilty of employee theft

      Maybe, maybe not. He may have asked his boss if he could take the little grain and the boss said yes. Maybe he even got a receipt. After all, back in those days I expect NASA were intending to go back and get a few more tonnes of the stuff.

  9. White_Wolf

    Outer space treaty...

    Correct me if im wrong but doesn't the international outer space treaty say something along the lines that any Government (signed up to the treaty) is forbidden from claiming a celestial resource? How can she steal something that the Government cannot legally claim?

    1. dssf

      That was then...

      This is now...

  10. Bill Fresher

    Repeat ad nauseum

    CBS also appear to have reported the same story in May 2011.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20064865-504083.html

  11. Bassey

    From another point of view

    Turning the story around ever so slightly to view it from the supposed point that neither NASA or the Feds have ANY evidence this old lady has done anything wrong and you have;

    Feds/NASA kidknapp old lady, hold her hostage for two hours and only release her after stealing $1m from her purse.

    Just saying....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't a 1st.....

    ....NASA have a history of this.

    In the 60's and 70's momentos and kit were given to engineers and people associated with the Space programme, usally as a "hey Dave, good job, here have this", so no paperwork.

    Now they are worth something, NASA are trying to play the "it was stolen" game.

    http://jonathanturley.org/2011/07/02/nasa-sues-former-apollo-14-astronaut-over-lunar-camera/

  13. rpjs
    Coat

    When moon rock is banned...

    ...only criminals will have moon rock.

  14. Allan 1
    Joke

    Running out of Gel

    The US has to chase down every speck of moondust it can, as they are running out of white gel which they need to fight mantis-men and insane computers.

    1. Kane Silver badge
      Go

      @ Running out of Gel

      Yes, but they can allways rely on their abundance of citrus based explosives to ensure that science gets done.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much moon dust came back on their moon boots?

  16. Inachu
    IT Angle

    This is stupid.

    What if a future meteor hits the moon and fist sized fragments land all over earth.

    USA has no juridiction over that! TOTAL BS.

    Sorry China and Russia and Japan and Germany and whomever you gotta pay USA for those rocks!

    A big FU to big brother.

  17. arrbee

    rock on

    Until recently almost half (by weight) of all the rocks brought back by the Apollo missions were still lying around in sterile environments at various US establishments waiting for someone to come up with a use for them. I wonder if this is still the case.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    at least bill NASA rent at 5% in the meantime

  19. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Apollo 12 Moon walker & painter Al Bean...

    Al Bean sprinkles imperceptible amounts of genuine Moon dust onto some of his original paintings.

    The Fuzz won't touch him because he'd kick their wussy little butts if they tried. You don't mess with an astronaut - not even one that's near 80 years old. Just ask professional Apollo conspiry nutcase Bart Sibrel. He had his clock cleaned by a certain Buzz Aldrin - well worth looking up on YouTube if you missed it.

    Anyway, the Feds will have to prove the old lady's Moon rock was not legally acquired. They probably can't prove that. Many were given away as *gifts* free and clear. Especially tiny specks encased in clear plastic (just sayin'). I think that the Feds have opened up an expensive legal mess that they might very well lose.

  20. John H Woods
    Happy

    Free gifts to employees

    Reminds me of when I were a lad ... I was told (but I haven't checked snopes) ...

    A worker at a chemical plant in Middlesbrough was allowed by the foreman to take home a piece of perforated shiny scrap metal with that looked just right for sieving his garden. Sure enough, when ICI bods turned up to reclaim it, he was actually sieving his garden soil with it ... a piece of platinum catalyst worth considerably more than his house.

    The story goes that he returned it, the foreman got a mild ticking off, the employee was given a large high quality steel sieve for giving it back, and the process for tracking the catalysts was substantially improved.

  21. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Happy

    What's all the fuss?!

    I hated MoonDust, used to stick in your teeth and colour your tongue depending upon the colour you bought! Anyway what's all the fuss this stuff used to be 10p a packet from the local corner shop?!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wasn't that Space Dust?

  22. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I have some moon rock.

    I know it's real, it has "MOON" written all the way through.

  23. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
    Alien

    Perhaps it's fake

    Perhaps NASA know it's not real moon rock because no one walked on the moon.

  24. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Double eagle coin

    They have a bit of a record of this sort of thing.

    There was a famous gold coin that was never issued but a couple of samples were sold /given to foreign dignitaries and a export license granted.

    50years later somebody tried to sell one and there was a huge FBI sting claiming that all coins were the property of the US govt and it was stolen etc.

    Remember in the US law is politics - big name cases that get you on the news so get you promoted and it's a lot safer than chasing bad guys with guns.

  25. Grease Monkey

    What I don't understand is why anybody would fork out a million bucks for a tiny fragment of rock from some old lady. It's a bit of rock sealed in a paperweight so it's not like it would be easy to prove that it is or isn't moon rock. Let's say one of your mates showed you a tiny bit of grit in a paperweight and told you it was moon rock and they'd paid a million dollars for it you'd probably never stop taking the piss.

    Actually if I was NASA and I wanted to block the sale I would have gone about in a totally different way. I'd have got her local plod to pull her for attempted fraud. That way they could have had themselves called as expert witnesses and "tested" the rock before declaring it to be a perfectly ordinary bit of basalt or something. The alleged perp would then probably have ended up being totally discredited as well as doing jail time.

    All this publicity is probably going to result in any amount of grit turning up on ebay as moon rock.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and what of cleaning the shuttle. specs of dust brought home accidentally...

    It's equally likely it's fused desert sand.

    Or maybe the feds want it back before someone analysies it and finds out what it REALLY is.

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