The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
Plain Layne (and other fake bloggers) — The big news in the blogosphere last week was the revelation that a blogger named 'Plain Layne' wasn't who she said she was. Of course if you, like me, had never heard of Plain Layne before, then the news didn't mean a whole lot. But the people who thought they knew her seemed genuinely shocked. Plain Layne wrote about her life, and her life happened to be far more exciting and racy than the lives of most people, which is why she had a fairly large following. Jason Kottke has…
Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2004.   Comments (10)

Really Unfortunate Last Names — A couple of weeks ago I posted an entry about a Brazilian professor of Geology who has a rather unfortunate last name. That inspired quite a few people to chime in with other unfortunate last names they've encountered. But I think I've found a contest winner (not that there is any contest). Meet Miss Chew Shit Fun, a professor of Natural Sciences at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. As far as I can tell, that really is her name. (via The Peking Duck)
Posted: Thu Jun 10, 2004.   Comments (7)

Second Thoughts About Rance — Yesterday I suggested that the anonymous blogger 'Rance' might really be a cartoonist/screenwriter named Keith Thomson because Thomson's name kept popping up when I tracked down who was initially hyping Rance in internet discussion groups. But people have pointed out that movie studios and talent agencies often create phony identities that they use to hype projects they're working on. Maybe the phony identities they used to hype Rance just happened to have been used earlier to hype…
Posted: Wed Jun 02, 2004.   Comments (13)

Who is Rance? — The latest buzz in the blogosphere is about the weblog of 'Rance,' an anonymous blogger who claims to be a well-known, A-list, Hollywood celebrity. Or as he coyly puts it on his weblog, "I can tell you what it's like to see your picture on the magazine rack every now and again when you pay for groceries." For a couple of months he's been dishing up dirt on life in Hollywood, and he's succeeded in attracting a huge following. He even got interviewed (anonymously) by Reuters last week.…
Posted: Tue Jun 01, 2004.   Comments (29)


Unfortunate Last Names — I've always thought my last name was pretty bad. And I mean that in the literal sense. 'Boese' means 'bad' (or angry) in German. But its meaning wouldn't matter much if only English-speaking people could pronounce it (it's 'burr-za', as if it had an 'r' in it... not 'boose'). But I shouldn't feel too sorry for myself, because this guy in Brazil, Mr. Reinhardt Adolfo Fuck, has me beat hands down. As far as I can tell, that really is his name. He must get endless jokes about it.
Posted: Thu May 20, 2004.   Comments (693)

Saudi Princess from Buffalo — She said she was Princess Antoinette Millard from Saudi Arabia. She was actually from Buffalo, New York. But somehow she managed to con her way into millions of dollars. Her cover was blown when she filed fake insurance claims. It's amazing how the old fake princess con never seems to go out of style.
Posted: Mon May 10, 2004.   Comments (0)

Micah Wright, Pseudo Army Ranger — Micah Wright is the author of You Back the Attack, We'll Bomb Who We Want, a satirical take on war propaganda. Publishers Weekly described him as a "former Army Ranger turned antiwar comic book artist." In an interview with the Washington Post in July, 2003 Wright elaborated at some length on his experience as an Army Ranger. Here's a quote from that article: He endured rigorous Ranger training, including capturing and eating a snake. He says he participated in classified combat…
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004.   Comments (5)

Hot Abercrombie Chick Mystery Solved, Probably — A few days ago I posted about the controversy brewing around the Hot Abercrombie Chick (or HAC, for short). The HAC appeared to be an extremely photogenic young female blogger whose blog was rapidly increasing in popularity. But then rumors started to circulate that she wasn't a she at all. She was a he. And the blog's popularity appeared to be due to manipulation of the way blogs are tracked. Justin Foster and Cameron Marlow have done some impressive internet detective work and traced…
Posted: Wed Apr 28, 2004.   Comments (0)

Tax Refund for a Princess — If you're going to cheat on your tax forms, you might as well do it big, like this university cafeteria worker did. She claimed to be a Hawaiian princess and managed to get a $2.1 million refund from the IRS. The only thing is, she really believes she is a Hawaiian princess. Her defense lawyer argues that she suffers from an "irrational insistence upon an identity that is not her own." Maybe she's the second coming of Princess Caraboo.
Posted: Tue Apr 27, 2004.   Comments (0)

Will the real Ella Schultz please stand up? — Ella Schultz, an elderly black woman living in Kentwood, Michigan, is quite the emailer. Over the past year she's been shooting off emails to teachers, school administrators, and even a few journalists. But it turns out that Ella isn't actually real. The person actually sending those emails was Edward Kape, a Kentwood Board of Education member (who has now resigned). Or at least, he was one of the people using 'Ella Schultz' as their nom de plume. He insists there were others, though…
Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2004.   Comments (5)

Who is the Hot Abercrombie Chick? — If you're a regular reader of Blogdex, as I am, then you'll recognize the name Hot Abercrombie Chick (aka Amanda Doerty). For some reason her weblog keeps rising to the top of Blogdex's index. I've never been able to figure out why. Her posts just don't seem that interesting or relevant. To be honest, I find them boring. Apparently other people have had the same thought, because now she's being accused of gaming Blogdex. But that's not all. Julia Set reports receiving an inside tip…
Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2004.   Comments (4)

Is this Baby Jessica? — Back in 1987 'Baby Jessica' became famous when she fell down a well and was saved following a dramatic rescue operation. Stuff Magazine is now featuring a photo of 'Baby Jessica' all grown up and posing by a well, but is that really Baby Jessica? Makeup and lighting will do a lot (as will digital touch-up work), but the woman in the photo doesn't look that much like Jessica as she appeared a few years ago in this picture. Here's a link to a hi-res scan of the Stuff article. Note that…
Posted: Tue Apr 13, 2004.   Comments (10)

Born to be Wild — When the 'Green' brothers were found living in the wilderness outside of Vancouver, they claimed that they had been living there, in that condition, their entire life. News reports of the Wild Boys of Canada (or 'Bush Boys of Vernon') soon followed. But now it turns out that the pair weren't so wild after all. They were really born and raised in Sacramento, California, until they ran away from home last year and found their way into the Canadian wilderness.
Posted: Mon Apr 05, 2004.   Comments (0)

Belle de Jour Commentary — The Guardian invited Cynthia Payne, "Britain's best-known madam," to comment on the Belle de Jour weblog, i.e. did she think it's really written by a London call girl, or is it all the product of some writer's imagination. Payne declares that it's "a load of rubbish."
Posted: Mon Mar 29, 2004.   Comments (2)

Not Harry Potter — Here's some free advice. If a guy you meet online claims to be Daniel Radcliffe, the young actor who plays Harry Potter, don't believe him. A teenage girl from Chile flew all the way to England with her mother to meet an online correspondent who claimed to be Daniel Radcliffe, only to find some random slimebag waiting for her. Which reminds me, J.Lo, I'm still heartbroken that you stood me up.
Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2004.   Comments (0)

Who is Belle de Jour? — The Belle de Jour weblog, which records the daily trials and tribulations of a London call girl, began attracting a lot of attention a couple of months ago. It wasn't just the racy, sexy content that got people hooked. It was also the fact that the writing was unusually good. So it wasn't a surprise when the anonymous Belle landed a book deal. But now a new element of controversy has been added to the story. As the London Times writes, "There is growing evidence that Belle may be a…
Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2004.   Comments (1)

The Real Bobby Mason — Bobby Mason, former professional football player for the Wolverhampton Wanderers, was quite a celebrity in Southbourne. Problem is, Bobby Mason wasn't really Bobby Mason. He was an imposter who had been posing as the football player. The real Bobby Mason was quite shocked to learn that someone had been living as him for so long.
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2004.   Comments (0)

How to be an economics expert (even if you know nothing about economics) — Matthew Richardson, a 23-year-old student at St. Peters College in Britain, was asked to travel to Beijing to deliver a series of lectures about economic theory. He was flattered by the invitation, though puzzled since he knew nothing about economics. But undaunted, he packed an economics textbook in his bag and took off to Beijing. It was only after he got there that he figured out that the people in Beijing had probably intended to invite Prof. Matthew Richardson from New York…
Posted: Fri Feb 20, 2004.   Comments (0)

Vixen Love — If you're ever instant messaging on AOL and strike up a conversation with a 19-year-old female from California named Vixen Love, watch out. You're not really talking to a teenage girl. Vixen Love is actually a computer program. Quite a few people apparently have failed to realize this.
Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2004.   Comments (0)

Bad Santa — I saw the movie Bad Santa last week and loved it. Now here's a case of a real-life bad santa who's scamming businesses in Mississippi by pretending to be collecting money for charity.
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2003.   Comments (0)

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