The 10 weirdest money stories of the year

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Gerard Depardieu arrives in Russia

For some people 2013 will be the year of the horse meat scandal, for others it will be the year of Prince George, and for many more it'll be the year we finally saw hope on the horizon that one day the financial crisis would end. But for a select few it will be the year of the truly bizarre, when the world of finances saw everything from a film star becoming Russian for tax purposes, to university professor mistaken for a retail chain.

Here's our selection of the 10 strangest stories to hit the money pages this year.


Benefits cheat caught by Gok Wan

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a year in which the state pledged to stamp out benefit cheats, there were a couple of more unusual cases of benefit fraud to hit the headlines.

In March Delroy Gocul, a 39-year-old from Waltham Forest, London, was found guilty of defrauding taxpayers out of £20,000. His fatal mistake was to appear on How To Look Good Naked, supporting his girlfriend. He hadn't informed the authorities of the relationship, and because he was living with her at the time, he wasn't entitled to claim the benefits.

Deal or No Deal benefits cheat caught

In April, Caroline Banana was found guilty of benefit fraud. The 40-year-old from Whitridge Grove, Bentilee, had come into a windfall of £95,000, and failed to tell the authorities about the money. It's perhaps not particularly surprising that the DWP discovered her deception - given that she'd won the money on Deal or No Deal.

Man fails to sell himself for 99p

Steve Sewell, a 58-year-old unemployed mechanic from Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, isn't the first person to try to sell themselves on eBay. He set up a listing in July, hoping to be offered a job, and listed his great experience and skills. Under Seller Notes he added: "Some wear to moving parts, surface finish worn". Sadly for Sewell even with a starting price of just 99p, he failed to attract any bids.

Virginity auction: second time lucky

Jobseekers weren't the only ones turning to internet auctions in 2013. One alarming story this November was of Catarina Migliorini, a 21-year-old Brazilian student, who was auctioning her virginity online. What made this story particularly bizarre was that she had already done it once before and made $780,000 - but the deal had fallen through. She had gained some notoriety from the first auction and appeared in Playboy, so decided to cash in again.

House perched on cliff edge sells for £33,500

Of all the weird property stories this year, one of the oddest was the beautiful four bedroom home in a spectacular part of Dorset, which sold at auction for £33,500. The only downside of the property was that the authorities won't allow anyone to live in it. The road sits on top of a cliff by the sea, and rapid and dramatic coastal erosion means it runs a high risk of falling off the edge of a cliff. One other house in the road has already faced this fate, but it didn't stop someone snapping this home up at auction.

Serial killer's home becomes tourist attraction

For those who like their odd property stories much darker, a strange tale emerged from California - that a serial killer's home had been opened to the public for tours. For one day only people could see where the landlady had murdered her tenants, drained their bodily fluids and buried them in the garden. Tourists flocked to the place. The current owners have made a feature of the home's history, with a mannequin in the back garden, and a sign that reads: 'Trespassers will be drugged and buried in the back yard.'

Gerard Depardieu becomes Russian for tax purposes

Celebrity money stories always have the potential to turn weird, but this year Depardieu was responsible for the most unusual one. In January he gave up being French and embraced Russian Citizenship. He wrote an open letter to Putin, praising the country and its people. He is also said to be a fan of the 13% tax rate.

Steven Seagal becomes the face of Russian guns

Seagal takes the title of the second weirdest celebrity money story of the year. In June it emerged that he would be the new face of a Russian arms company. The action hero made the announcement during a tour of a gun factory.

Lottery oddity

Winning the lottery doesn't always mean a charmed life, and in September it was the turn of former Sainsbury's employee, 42-year-old Susan Meakin, to discover the downside. She ran a lottery syndicate at the Beeston store, with 72 other people. But when they won £4,550.60 she decided not to tell the syndicate and to keep the money for herself. Her deception was spotted and a court ordered her to pay it all back to her colleagues - and miss out on her share of the win.

Sainsbury's worker refuses to serve woman on her mobile

There was outrage earlier this year as Jo Clarke, a 26-year-old property manager went to the papers to express her shock at how she was treated in Sainsbury's in Crayford, Kent. She had been on her mobile and the checkout assistant said she wouldn't put her shopping through until she got off the phone. A Sainsbury's spokesperson apologised, but AOL readers came out firmly in support of the checkout assistant. Over 2,000 people commented on the story, the vast majority of whom had no sympathy at all for Clarke.

Mistaken for a retailer

There can't be many men who are mistaken for a shop, but in November we discovered that American IT Professor John Lewis had been dealing with this for months. His Twitter name is John Lewis, and he was inundated with tweets meant for the retailer. He responded to each one with incredible patience and good humour. One of his finest was "‪@oddbohemian‬ ‪@TheVintageYear‬ I do look FABULOUS in feathers and grosgrain, but I have a feeling you were referring to the retail store." When the retailer found out about his tweets they sent him a laptop as an early Christmas present.