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The Grifter: A Modern Urban Legend

Updated on February 23, 2018
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Darcie is a graduate student who spends her free time writing and learning everything she can about cryptozoology, aliens, and the unusual.

An image many people attribute to The Grifter.
An image many people attribute to The Grifter. | Source

With the age of the Internet and viral videos, urban legends continue to persist, but in different ways. In the modern era, one of these types of urban legends is the rumor of an unattainable video. In this age of YouTube and torrents, the idea of not being able to access a video is tantalizing to many, to say the least. This is the case with The Grifter.

A screenshot of the original thread.
A screenshot of the original thread. | Source

The Legend

On August 10, 2009, user the_solipsist posted a thread on 4chan's /x/ imageboard. They wrote about a mysterious video called The Grifter. The video was said to cause viewers to experience nausea, nightmares, and even make them commit suicide. The user didn't have the video, but they did have screenshots purported to be from it.

Another thread a short time later included a creepypasta based around this mysterious video, but it's not known whether it was the same user who authored it.

The descriptions of the video continued to expand after the initial post. Some descriptions claimed that the video is of unknown origin, and features footage of scenes of Satanic worship, torture, human sacrifice, and other disgusting images.

Others specify that it was filmed in the 1930s, and shows a series of strange pictures and sounds. In one scene, a plant rots while the text "Your race is the one that is dying" appears over it. The video has also been described as having up close shots of corpses and people possessed by demons.

Another commonly spread rumor is that at the end of the video, a message appears in Esperanto which reads, "This child (now a young man) is still alive and lives in a local shelter whose name was not given. He never spoke, and is still in katatonie [sic]."

Recreation of the final screen.
Recreation of the final screen. | Source

Rumors have also spread of what happens to those who watch the video. One such rumor passed around is that everyone who has watched the video has been killed in their homes, and all had a strange doll hidden somewhere in their home. Some people have claimed that they have attempted to make copies of the video, but were unable to do so. Still others have claimed that the video is occasionally posted to YouTube, but is always quickly removed.

Whenever anyone brings up the video, other posters will quickly warn them against watching it, claiming the video will ruin their life. Naturally, this only adds to the mystery and curiosity surrounding The Grifter.

Another screenshot supposedly from The Grifter.
Another screenshot supposedly from The Grifter. | Source

Supposed Video Evidence

On September 8, 2009, the YouTube user jojacob666 uploaded a video titled "the grifter." The video had dark footage of a hallway and creepy audio. On March 2, 2010, YouTube user shirtfag posted another video purported to be the real The Grifter, but it was essentially the same as the other video. (It should also probably be noted that jojacob666 has made other videos based on creepypastas, so their video likely wasn't intended to be mistaken for the real thing in the first place.)

It was discovered that these videos actually contained footage from a movie called Little Otik. Little Otik is a comedy about a couple who pretends a root they take from their backyard is a real child. This is the same movie the screenshots from the original post were taken from.

jojacob666 Video

Reupload of the Second Video

The Admission

Back on August 15, 2009, only a few days after the original post, a Yahoo Answers question was posted about the video, asking for a link. The top rated answer to this question claimed that the threads were made by trolls trying to aggravate /x/ board members into a debate over whether or not the video was real. It appears this may have been the truth, as on August 21, 2009, user the_solipsist confirmed that he made the entire story up.

Transcription of the_solipsist's admission.
Transcription of the_solipsist's admission. | Source

Of course, plenty of people are still not aware of the admission, and at a certain point, The Grifter even reached meme status. One thread asked users to post the most disturbing movie they had ever seen, specifically excluding The Grifter, resulting in responses where movie titles were changed to include the words "grift" or "grifter."

The Rumors Persist

But even with the_solipsist's admission, the rumors of The Grifter still persist to this day. An article published on January 10, 2017 by Gregory Burkart of Blumhouse made the claim that Burkart was approached by a nameless source who claimed to have acquired the original video.

The source told Burkart that the actual video contained embedded subliminal audio signals, most of which were at an extreme low frequency range known as infrasound. The effects of listening to these sounds can include hallucinations, sensory distortion, migraines, nausea, and cardiac arrhythmia.

Burkart also claims he had technical difficulties dealing with a clip he was given while trying to encode it to upload on the website, saying that it delayed his post for months. He additionally gives a warning not to listen to the clip on a high volume.

Image from Burkart's video.
Image from Burkart's video. | Source

So is there any validity to Burkart's claims of a mysterious, unnamed source having access to The Grifter, a video which the originator of the rumor told everyone was a hoax? Probably not. But it likely has kept this modern urban legend alive just a little bit longer.


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