The Grifter is a meme and urban legend hoax created by the_solipsist !wYl0Ob/Jlo on 4chan’s /x/, who has since admitted that the video and the legend surrounding it are his own creations.

the_solipsist !wYl0Ob/Jlo created the initial thread on August 10, 2009, asking if any users of /x/ had heard of or seen a video known as The Grifter. He claimed that the video had disturbed him greatly, “like it ruined something deep down within [his] soul”. He then, by his own later admission, posted anonymous replies validating his claims that the video had existed, and also claimed that the video had emerged in 2008 on 4chan’s /x/ and had been quickly buried by people who felt it too disturbing to share. In addition, other posters unknown to him “acting in the interest of [his] efforts” corroborated the story, saying they, too, had seen the video. Soon after, the thread became a flurry of debate on whether or not the video existed and where a link to it could be found. Later that day, the_solipsist produced the now-famous image featuring a screencap of the thread and three images purported to be from The Grifter video, which was quickly posted on 4chan’s /b/ and several other boards through the internet, igniting The Grifter story into full-fledged mayhem.

Full image can be viewed in the Gallery

Full image can also be viewed here.

In a followup thread, another poster, probably the_solipsist himself posting anonymously, wrote this, which quickly became the most commonly cited synopsis of the video (errors in original):

“it was posted back in 2007-8 under some foreign link, the OP basically posted the link stating how fucked up it was. It was real grainy, from what i remember it showed strange images, like a bathtub full of writhing maggots, haunting paintings from old times melting, random forests,flashing colours, text in a different language (from what i remember) all while a strange voice played which sounded like a strange murmrer, if you’ve seen the ‘there is nothing’ video, it was like that voice but more indistinguishable. Then the graininess lifted a little, and there was a video of a small puppy being held up by it’s neck, it was moving like in pain but it’s cries where like a human childs, it then cut to a nursery with lots of craddles all the children where still in the cots, presumed dead, it walked over to one of the cots, and one of the newborns raised up a little, began to cry, and bled from the eyes and mouth. then another shot of a basement (like the original picture) with a malformed hand disapearing into it blood stained. Lastly it showed more text (someone ‘stated’ it said ‘you’re race is one that is dying’) with an image of a plant rotting very quickly, close ups of corpses. and what i can only describe as ‘real’ cases of exorcism and demonic posession, which clearly have never been seen outside the said country of origin. while this seen plays, the voice that was talking fairly calmly, breaks out into screams of intense pain and suffering, which is just as deeply chilling as the initial shock. The creepy, radio like murmering voice is talking throughout the whole video.”

Controversy raged for nearly two weeks over the validity of the video and the_solipsist’s claims. Some noted that the_solipsist had already claimed that he intended to make a real video based on the story, and that this implied that he knew the video was fake. (See right) the_solipsist, however, claimed that he was merely planning to make an “homage” to the original, and not that he was going to attempt to pass his video off as the real one.

Some posters made appeals to logic, with the definition of the word “grifter” itself being a strong hint to its fabricated nature: Grift-er – noun slang: a swindler, dishonest gambler, or the like.

However, threads regarding The Grifter continued on for days, with many visitors asking for links to or a source of the video, often without checking to see if there were existing threads on the issue. Within the first few days, trolls from /b/ and caught on to the controversy and discovered that The Grifter made a very successful trolling medium and began making multiple threads about The Grifter at a time, usually as often as 4chan’s global flood controls would let them. These threads and posts often claimed to have found a “source” for The Grifter, typically linking to a YouTube video of any number of unrelated things and /b/ memes. A few were even genuine Rick Rolls, long considered unfashionable on 4chan. Finally, early on the morning of August 18, 2009, just over a week after the original thread, Encyclopedia Dramatica’s /x/ article was updated with instructions on how to troll /x/ by mass-posting Grifter threads, opening a floodgate of trolls onto the board.

Within hours, Grifter threads had gone from taking up anywhere from three to five threads on page 0 of /x/ to filling up most of the first few pages of the board, the majority by trolls, some by /x/ posters hoping to stem the tide of Grifter threads by decrying it as a hoax (but only succeeding in making further Grifter threads visible), and even other trolls pretending to be /x/ posters concerned that people were being taken in by deceit. Many legitimate /x/ threads were also derailed by a consistent flood of spam about The Grifter. This varied from posts blaming any paranormal phenomenon on The Grifter (some trolls appeared to be unaware that The Grifter was never a person at all), responding to any questions with “The Grifter”, or sometimes simply posting “The Grifter” with no context whatsoever or spamming it repeatedly, i.e. THEGRIFTERTHEGRIFTERTHEGRIFTERTHEGRIFTERTHEGRIFTERTHEGRIFTER, not unlike Desu spam threads found on /b/ in its earlier years. Some threads and posts also appeared where the poster claimed to be the_solipsist, but without his tripcode. While these were rare at first, it quickly became common for people to impersonate the_solipsist.

After a few days of a constant barrage of Grifter spam, a group of anonymous posters examined the original screenshots and discovered that they were all approximately the resolution and aspect ratio of a YouTube video and that they appeared to have been shot professionally. Another anonymous poster, possibly working off this information, posted a copy of the_solipsist’s Grifter screecaps to an art film message board. The group quickly came up with the answer: A little-known Czech horror film called Little Otik, whose trailer could easily be found on YouTube and included each of the three images seen in The Grifter’s fake screencaps.

The spam continued unabated for a few hours after the Little Otik discovery, but eventually it died off as /x/philes began ignoring it and concentrating on actual /x/ content instead. Encyclopedia Dramatica’s article was edited, where its editor claimed the /x/ trolling had been a failure, blaming those who spammed it without context into dilution and concluding that /b/ and its trolls are “incapable of stringing along some of the most gullible people on the internet.”

Despite the reduction in spam and the discovery of the origin of the fake screencaps, some trolls and believers were not satisfied, as they continued to claim that, while the screencaps from that particular source were fake, the_solipsist never posted them (as the original post containing the image was made anonymously) and that it didn’t negate the possibility that the video still existed.

On the evening of August 21, 2009, however, the_solipsist, posting under his own tripcode, finally confessed (errors in original):

the grifter is, indeed, my work of fiction. i started a thread about it after remembering the name from that “tales from the darkside” episode about a creature called “the grither” that i saw when i was little. i samefagged in the original thread a few times, but it really caught on like wildfire; piquing the curiosity of those who wanted to see it. along with the hive-minded trolls (from /b/?) that acting in the interest of my efforts by making their own claims to having had seen it. yes, i hate to lie, so i’ll admit… i made the edited screencaps ripped from little otik. i was surprised it took you guys as long as it did to identify them. i was actually talking to a film major student from my school about shooting a video for the grifter this weekend, but i had intended to splice in the scenes from little otik.. kinda ruined my plans when you guys caught on, though

The Tales from the Darkside episode that the_solipsist is referring to appears to be season 3, episode 11, which is titled “Seasons of Belief.” Ironically, many /x/philes blame The Grifter’s popularity as a trolling subject on seasonal visitors; students out of school for the summer.

Since that time, very few (possibly none at all) believers of the original video remain. Some trolls still lurk, waiting to post a reference to the video in any tangentially related thread, and some /x/philes are still making threads to ensure that no one is left unaware of the_solipsist’s fabrication. Most of the posts and new threads regarding the video, however, have been noticeably reduced.

This is not the video you’re looking for
September 08, 2009 YouTube user jojacob666 (creator of the Candle Cove video and an animation based on the Suicidemouse.avi urban legend) released a video titled ‘The Grifter’ with the subtitle ‘this is not the video you’re looking for’. The video is based and the Grifter creepypasta and features clips from Little Otik.

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