Though I believe that most of the Contactees of the ’50s were sincere in the telling of their stories, this doesn’t necessarily mean they were telling the objective truth–they were telling the truth as they knew it. And saucer fans of the day were eager to hear what they had to say.
Unfortunately, this put them at risk of a few less-than-reputable types who saw the saucer craze as a way to make a buck. This, of course, is one of the main criticisms of the Contactees in general, that they were just trying to make easy money off all the rubes who’d buy their books.
The thing is, there wasn’t a ton of money–and their still isn’t, by the way–in telling tales of going to the moon with Space Brothers. And it’s a grueling lifestyle, going from convention to lecture to personal appearance and back again. Short of a movie deal, there’s not much opportunity for striking it rich.
Unless you’re clever, like Otis T. Carr. While not a claimed contactee himself, he defrauded contactees and saucer fans by selling stock in his business of creating a working flying saucer capable of flying to the moon and back. When it came time to demonstrate this miracle machine, he claimed to have contracted a mysterious illness and didn’t show up. He later went to prison for selling stock in his fraudulent scheme.
There’s also the story of Reinhold O. Schmidt, a man who claimed to have encountered a landed saucer outside of Kearney, Nebraska in 1957. Then he said he went inside the saucer, speaking to the beautiful space brothers in perfect high German, before they escorted him back outside and the ship took off. From there, Schmidt’s story takes a dark turn, for when he reported this incident, he was held in a mental hospital for several days until his employer secured his release. But only a few years later he was convicted of defrauding a 61-year old widow out of $5000 for “free energy crystals” with the power to heal.
And while not strictly a contactee tale, the Aztec saucer crash as told in Frank Scully’s book Behind the Flying Saucers, was eventually exposed as a hoax perpetrated by Silas Newton and Leo GeBauer as a ploy to get investors in oil-detecting equipment.
Flying saucers, because they’re neither provable nor disprovable, provide a fertile ground in which the seeds of deception can grow. And as such, these sorts of cons can easily claim victims. Many skeptics today would say that all flying saucer stories are cons of some degree, and their victims are those with little talent for critical thinking. I tend to think the truth is somewhere in the middle of that range. Just because there are bogus pharmaceuticals out there is no reason to discount the entire field of medicine. Just because there are stories from deceivers and deceived both when it comes to UFOs, one cannot simply throw all the stories out.