The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
Homeless Decoys — The City of Toronto plans to pay 100 people $100 each to pose as homeless people for a day. Each person will first attend a 30-minute training seminar on how to convincingly look homeless. The reason: the decoys will act as a "control measure" during the city's upcoming survey of the homeless population. I guess I don't sufficiently understand the methodology of conducting surveys, because this doesn't make any sense to me.
Posted: Mon Mar 23, 2009.   Comments (16)

The Dalai Lama Twitters and then is gone — February 1: The Dalai Lama joins the micro-blogging service Twitter and starts posting updates, which soon almost 20,000 people are following. February 9: Twitter announces that the Dalai Lama's account is a fake and cancels it. This explanatory message was posted on the Twitter blog: One of the essential doctrines of Buddhism is Impermanence. The word expresses the notion that everything we can experience through our senses is in flux, constantly changing, and ceasing to be—nothing…
Posted: Wed Feb 11, 2009.   Comments (4)

New York Times Hoaxed — The NY Times apologized for printing an email from the Mayor of Paris in which he criticized Caroline Kennedy's bid for Clinton's senate seat. You see, it's easy to put a fake email address in the "From" field, so it's the Times's policy to always check that the person who seems to have sent them an email actually did so. But they didn't do that in this case, and now the Mayor is denying he wrote the email. The Times is "reviewing procedures" to make sure something like this doesn't…
Posted: Tue Dec 23, 2008.   Comments (2)

Fictitious McCain Adviser Exposed — Martin Eisenstadt, who describes himself as a former campaign adviser to John McCain and a Senior Fellow of the Harding Institute, has been in the news a lot lately. First it was for outing himself as the guy who leaked the story about Palin not knowing Africa was a continent. Now it's for being non-existent. The NY Times has the details. Turns out that Eisenstadt is a fictitious character created by two filmmakers, Eitan Gorlin and Dan Mirvish. Media outlets fooled: MSNBC, The New…
Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2008.   Comments (8)


McElhone in movie about James Barry — The Guardian reports that Natasha McElhone is slated to play Dr. James Barry in an upcoming film to be titled Heaven and Earth. Barry was the nineteenth-century British woman who disguised herself as a man in order to become a doctor. (See my post from earlier this year.) The film is apparently focusing on the rumored romance between Barry and Lord Somerset: James Purefoy, recently seen as Mark Antony in the TV series Rome, will play Lord Somerset, a diplomat who sacrifices his…
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008.   Comments (1)

Pietro Psaier: Real or Hoax? — Pietro Psaier was an artist whose works fetch thousands of dollars. He was said to be a friend of Andy Warhol, which helps his saleability. But the question now perplexing the art world is whether Psaier ever actually existed. This, from the Telegraph, is the little that's known about his life: Information provided by an agent for the artist's estate states that Psaier was born in Italy in 1936 and died in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka. He left Italy as a young man and went to…
Posted: Wed Sep 17, 2008.   Comments (1)

C. Yeager of the Phillies — Baseball fans attending the recent Fan Fest in New York City had the chance to get memorabilia signed by C. Yeager of the Phillies. The problem: there is no "C. Yeager" playing for the Phillies. The man in the Phillies uniform was really just a guy who likes to dress up as a ballplayer so that, for a few minutes, he can enjoy the adulation of kids... before the police haul him away. The Sporting Blog (who has video of the guy signing anything people stuck in front of him) writes: "He…
Posted: Tue Jul 15, 2008.   Comments (7)

Check-in Pseudonyms — Kate Beckinsale goes by "Sigourney Beaver." Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, when together, were "Mr and Mrs Ross Vegas." And Johnny Depp uses "Mr. Stench." These are some of the check-in pseudonyms that Hollywood stars use to remain anonymous when registering at hotels. The only time I ever use a pseudonym is when asked to fill in info for things like online surveys or grocery store cards. Then I'm always "Eric Blair." But I'm thinking of switching to Hugo N. Frye.
Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2008.   Comments (23)

Woman discovers the guy she met online wasn’t really a Sonics star — Another case of an impostor is in the news. A woman in Somerville, Mass. thought she was dating Jeff Turner, a former basketball player for the Washington Seattle Sonics. Turns out she was actually dating an impostor named Ronnie Craven. Craven's cover was blown when the woman became suspicious, tracked down the real Jeff Turner, and called him. Craven admits to the hoax, but says he only did it to impress the woman. In other words, he claims he was only trying to benefit sexually, not…
Posted: Thu Jun 05, 2008.   Comments (7)

Woman discovers husband isn’t a doctor — Tammi Parteet was worried since she hadn't heard from her husband. So she decided to call him at Piedmont Hospital, where he worked as a doctor. WSBTV.com relates what happened next: She called him on his Piedmont cell phone, the one he told her was for emergencies. A staff member picked up. "I said, 'I'm trying to locate my husband, Dr. Perteet.' And she said, 'Dr. who? We don't have a Dr. Perteet.' And she says, 'Are you talking about the guy that had this cell phone?' And I said…
Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2008.   Comments (9)

Carrollton Mayor’s Questionable Singing Career — Becky Miller, Mayor of Carrollton in Texas, claims that she once sang backup for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne, and was once engaged to Don Henley. Problem is, none of these people have ever heard of her. She also claims that her brother was killed in Vietnam. However, her father says that her brother is still alive in Maryland and was never in the service. And Western Kentucky University can't find any record of her attendance, despite her insistence that she was a student there.
Posted: Thu May 08, 2008.   Comments (11)

Wrong Hillary — From the March 19th edition of the Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle: It was incorrectly reported in Tuesday’s Tribune Chronicle that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton answered questions from voters in a local congressman’s office. Reporter John Goodall, who was assigned to the story, spoke by telephone with Hillary Wicai Viers, who is a communications director in U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson’s staff. According to the reporter, when Viers answered the phone with ‘‘This is Hillary,’’ he believed…
Posted: Sun Mar 23, 2008.   Comments (8)

Dr. James Barry, aka Margaret Bulkley — Stephanie Pain has an interesting article in this week's New Scientist about Dr. James Barry, a nineteenth-century British doctor who may have been a woman. She writes: MYSTERY, intrigue, romance... the story of Dr Barry has them all. The tale is so compelling it's been told countless times, yet no one has ever solved the central mystery: who was Barry, the pint-sized physician with the sandy curls and squeaky voice? The doctor was both caring and quarrelsome, dainty yet dashing. He…
Posted: Wed Mar 12, 2008.   Comments (19)

Yet Another Literary Hoax — One week after Misha Defonseca confessed that she didn't really grow up with wolves, as she claimed in her memoir of her childhood in war-torn Europe, another literary hoax has surfaced. Love and Consequences, by Margaret B. Jones, purports to be a non-fiction memoir of the author's life "as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods." In reality, as the NY Times reports: "Margaret…
Posted: Tue Mar 04, 2008.   Comments (9)

Who is Robert Irvine? — What we can say with certainty is that Robert Irvine is the host of the Food Network's show Dinner: Impossible. I've watched this before and found it entertaining. Though Irvine comes across as pretty arrogant. However, many other facts about Irvine's career have now been called into question. For instance, in the past Irvine has claimed that he was knighted by the Queen, that he owns a castle in Scotland, that he cooked at the White House, and that he created the wedding cake for…
Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008.   Comments (6)

Woman Marries Blow-Up Bob — Remarries, to be exact. From Yahoo! News: Sheila Smith's husband, Bob, had to go away on business and couldn't make the Valentine's Day recommitment service at Grove City United Methodist Church. So friends brought a life-size inflatable doll to serve as a stand-in. They dressed Blow-up Bob in dress pants, a shirt and tie, and taped on a head-shot photo of the real Bob Smith. There's definitely an emerging trend of cardboard or inflatable spouses. Usually it involves military spouses…
Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008.   Comments (4)

Mayor uses magazine picture of himself as ID — A few days ago papers reported a weird news item about Charleston mayor Danny Jones who used a picture of himself in Charleston magazine to ID himself before boarding an airplane. Turns out that "impromptu IDs" are a perennial urban-legend theme. The Legends & Rumors blog has collected a long list of them. The examples include a case of a porn star who showed a nude picture of herself in a magazine to ID herself while cashing a check, as well as a nineteenth-century case of a man who…
Posted: Fri Feb 01, 2008.   Comments (8)

Quick Links: Jan. 29, 2008 — Russian election draws eccentric candidates Four empresses are running, as well as a tsar. Fake tickets offer strange message Police in Boulder are warning drivers to be on the lookout for fake parking tickets that bear this cryptic message: "The foregoing is falsely alleged upon personal initiative. This ticket hereby notes discredibility. Remember: Things could be worse. Get over yourself." I'm Not Dead Yet Polish resident Piotr Kucy is trying to convince officials that he isn't…
Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008.   Comments (2)

Name Change Prank — Robert Ashton and Aisling Davis have been playing tricks on each other for years. But when Robert dyed Aisling's hair blonde while she was asleep, she decided she needed to come up with something big to get him back. What she eventually dreamed up was to legally change Robert's name... to "Ima Stapler." The Halifax Courier reports: Aisling, of Sowerby Bridge, decided to take her revenge. She knew someone who had recently changed their middle name by deed poll and wondered if it would…
Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2008.   Comments (8)

Not Andy Warhol — Kutv.com has an article describing a hoax perpetrated by Andy Warhol back in 1967. He had been asked to do a speaking tour at various colleges, but decided, at the last minute, that he didn't want to do it. So he sent someone else, Allen Midgette, who pretended to be him: "Midgette whitened his hair and face and adopted a Warhol persona, and, accompanied by Morrissey, went on tour. And most believed the forged artist was authentic." People finally figured out that Midgette was not…
Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2007.   Comments (5)

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