As estimates of the death toll rose in the days following the 9/11 attacks, enormous amounts of sympathy and media attention flowed out towards those who had lost loved ones in the attack. Those who had participated in rescue efforts were hailed as national heroes. But simultaneously, many people (motivated, perhaps, by a desire for sympathy or attention) fabricated tales of phony heroics and lost loved ones in the weeks and months following 9/11. Listed are a few of the more notable cases of these phony 9/11 tales:
- Maureen Curry of Vancouver, Canada reported that her daughter, Carolyn Burdz, had been killed in the attack. She also complained that her employer had refused her request for bereavement leave. Friends and sympathetic politicians quickly raised over $2000 for her. But in reality her daughter was alive and well and living in Winnipeg. The two had been estranged for years.
- Susan Arroyo of Tennessee lied about the 9/11 death of her sister. She later explained that she did so in order to help re-establish ties with her brother (seems like a roundabout way to make peace with your brother... but never mind).
- The 9/11 death of a member of an internet gaming community was announced online to the other players. The prankster behind the false announcement turned out to be the player himself.
- Cyril Kendall claimed that his son Wilfred died in the attacks on the World Trade Center, for which he received $160,000 in compensation from the Red Cross. One problem. He didn't have a son named Wilfred. But he did manage to buy a shiny new car with the Red Cross money to help assuage his grief over the death of his nonexistent son. He was later sentenced to 11 to 33 years in prison.
- A member of the online LiveJournal community who went under the name Flashman, but whose real name was supposedly Anthony Joseph Pereira, was said to have died rushing into one of the burning World Trade Center towers in an attempt to save people. A friend of his, Rhyein, posted the announcement of his death, sparking an outpouring of online grief and commiseration. In fact, Flashman had never died, because he had never existed to begin with. He was the fictitious creation of Rhyein, the woman who had posted the announcement of his death. She chose the name 'Anthony Joseph Pereira' because it was the original name of Joe Perry of Aerosmith, her favorite band.
- Daniel McCarthy told people at a resort casino in Lake Tahoe where he was getting married that he was an ex-NYC policeman who had been trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center for 79 hours after he tried to carry a pregnant woman on his back out of the building. He said his partner, Dominick Impertore, died at his side. The NYC Police denied he had ever been employed by them.
- Sanae Zahani, a 20-year-old woman from Morocco, gained national attention for the search for her sister who, so she said, had been working in a bond-trading firm inside the World Trade Center. She even told her story on the Rosie O'Donnell show. But Zahani never had a sister who lived in New York. Zahani disappeared when this awkward flaw in her story was discovered.
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