The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
Quick Links: Belly Dancer Has Half Her Bottom Removed, etc. — Belly Dancer Has Half Her Bottom Removed German belly dancer Julia 'Cleopatra' Meyer went to a private clinic to get liposuction on her thighs. Unfortunately, the surgeon removed fat from her right buttock instead. She was awarded the equivalent of £12,000 - twice what she had asked for in compensation. (Thanks, Sophie.) Imposter at Stanford For eight months, Azia Kim lived on campus, studied with friends, and ate in the cafeteria. Trouble is, she wasn't actually a student there.
Posted: Tue May 29, 2007.   Comments (5)

Fake Sewage Workers Go Door-to-Door — Here's an odd story reported in the Mainichi Daily News: A tablet given to a local woman by a group of men posing as sewage workers who told her to swallow it if her tap water became dirty, has proven to be an chemical pipe cleaning agent, investigators said.... Several men visited the home of the victim in the Nagata Sannodai district of Minami-ku, Yokohama on Thursday morning, and handed a blue and white tablet to the resident, bureau officials said. "We're carrying out sewage works…
Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2007.   Comments (5)

Quick Links: Fake Gucci Advertisement Fools Newspaper, etc. — Fake Gucci Advertisemant Fools Newspaper A man in Switzerland phoned a national newspaper and managed to get them to run a two-page advertisement showing himself posing beside a bottle of Gucci perfume. He told the newspaper he was a representative for the company, and told them to send the 60,000 Swiss Frank bill to Gucci. Forum thread here. (Thanks, Carlotta.) Shark with ‘Webbed Feet’ Caught A Malaysian fisherman recently caught what appeared to be a shark with webbed feet. The…
Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007.   Comments (13)

Quick Links: Fake Cyber Romance Leads to Death, etc. — Fake Cyber Romance Leads to Death 22-year-old Brian Barrett was shot to death by his 47-year-old co-worker, Thomas Montgomery, who was jealous of his internet relationship with the young woman that Montgomery had been having a cyber fling with. What neither of them knew was that the woman involved was not 18, as she said, but a 40-something mother who was using her daughter’s identity. CNN Debunks Obama Report CNN have refuted Insight magazine’s claims that Democratic Sen. Barack…
Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2007.   Comments (15)


Quick Links: Giant Pawprints Puzzle Couple, etc. — Giant Pawprints Puzzle Couple Mr and Mrs May, of Ipswich, are mystified by a set of large pawprints, seemingly of an animal with claws or toes, which have appeared in their garden. Maybe it's Bernard. Drivers Buy Fake Emblems Increasing numbers of car owners are going to dealers, or to eBay, to buy emblems to make their cars look like more expensive versions. Fake Breastfeeding Picture of ABC Anchor Elizabeth Vargas was disappointed that the magazine Marie Claire photoshopped her…
Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2006.   Comments (8)

Quick Links: Bull on Roof, etc. — Bull on Roof Chumuckla Elementary School found a lifesize fibreglass bull on the roof on Monday. The bull belongs to a local ranch owner, and is worth more than $1000. £1/4M Compass is £50 Fake A compass, said to have been used by Lawrence of Arabia in his adventures and sold for £254,000 at Christie's auction house along with a watch and cigarette case, could be worth no more than £50. Kaczynski stands in for Kaczynski Polish President Lech Kaczynski has stepped in to replace his…
Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2006.   Comments (10)

Fake College Student — David Jovani Vanegas claimed to be a sophomore transfer student at Rice University. In reality he had never managed to get into Rice. Last September, Vanegas started attending classes. He also ate in the university's cafeterias, hung out with other students, and occasionally crashed in people's dorms when he was too tired to go back to his off-campus lodgings. Vanegas appears to have been relatively friendly towards students, but didn't seem to form many lasting relationships. Hardly…
Posted: Tue Oct 17, 2006.   Comments (34)

1990 Buckwheat Hoax — In October 1990 ABC aired an interview with a man who, so they believed, had played Buckwheat in the Our Gang series during the 1930s. I have a page about this case of mistaken identity in the hoaxes throughout history gallery: Buckwheat was the wide-eyed, African-American character played for almost ten years by William Thomas. He was famous for his signature phrase, "O-Tay!" After leaving the show, Thomas dropped from the public eye. 20/20 claimed that it had tracked him down to…
Posted: Wed Oct 11, 2006.   Comments (11)

Quick Links: Itsy Bitsy Imposter, etc. — Itsy Bitsy Imposter Paul Vance, co-writer of the song 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini' was slightly startled to read his own obituary - the result of an imposter. Robot Art Goes On Display A Portugese artist has devised a robot that creates its own paintings. Teddy Bear Causes 2,500 Trout Deaths A teddy bear that fell into a pool at a Fish and Game Department hatchery earlier this month clogged a drain, and suffocated a large number of trout in New Hampshire. A written…
Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2006.   Comments (15)

Writer Behind J.T. LeRoy Comes Clean — Laura Albert, the writer behind J.T. LeRoy, has finally confessed to the hoax. She says that her psychiatrist encouraged her to write when she was in therapy. In terms of her attitude to perpetrating a hoax, the article says: When asked if she felt any shame about misleading people, she replied: "I bleed, but it's a different kind of shame... If knowing that I'm 15 years older than (LeRoy) devalues the work, then I'm sorry they feel that way." Although it was fairly clear that the…
Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2006.   Comments (3)

LonelyGirl15 — I've been guilty of ignoring LonelyGirl15. For months I've been getting emails asking me whether or not she's real. I checked out her YouTube videos, and I'll admit that I found it hard to care whether or not she was real (maybe because I'm getting old), so I never posted about her. (Though there has been a thread in the forum about her for over a month.) But I evidently misjudged her appeal, because this week there have been hundreds of articles about her following the revelation that…
Posted: Sun Sep 17, 2006.   Comments (23)

Quick Links, KFCruelty.com, etc. — Mr. KentuckyFriedCruelty.com Changes Name Last year Christopher Garnett officially changed his name to "Kentucky fried cruelty.com". (It was a PETA publicity stunt.) Now he's had enough and is changing it back. Anyone feel like changing their name to "Museum of Hoaxes.com"? I'll give you a free book if you do. (Thanks, Beverley) Thames Town, China The cobbled streets, Georgian houses, and Tudor-style pub might make you think you're in England. But you're really in Thames Town, a faux…
Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006.   Comments (19)

Sheep Thinks She’s A Dog — Status: Case of mistaken identity It's not quite as dramatic as the cases of humans raised with wolves, but it's interesting nevertheless. Rolo the Sheep was raised with collies, and now seems to believe that she's a dog. The BBC reports: Rolo - named after her favourite sweets - competes with sheepdogs to jump through hoops, walks on a lead and herds ducks at her Gwynedd home. Owner Emlyn Roberts says Rolo likes nothing more than watching football on TV after calling up for her food...
Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006.   Comments (10)

Vatican Warns on Fake Papal Organist — Status: Imposter This is over a week old, but it struck me as odd enough to be worth posting anyway: The archpriest of St. Peter's basilica has warned European concert organizers against a musician who is falsely advertising himself as the "official organist" to Pope Benedict XVI... An Italian musician, Massimiliano Mussi, has issued publicity brochures in which he claims to a papal appointment. The cardinal warned promoters that the Vatican has only one official organist, American…
Posted: Fri Jun 02, 2006.   Comments (6)

Will The Real Guy Kewney Please Stand Up? — Status: Case of mistaken identity Guy Kewney, editor of newswireless.net, was scheduled to be interviewed by the BBC about the Apple Computer vs. Apple record label case. But as he stood in the lobby of the BBC building waiting to be met by the studio manager, he saw, to his surprise, someone else introduced and then interviewed under his name. Guy Kewney, according to his own description, is "fair-haired, blue-eyed, prominent-nosed, and with the sort of pale skin that makes my …
Posted: Sat May 13, 2006.   Comments (5)

The Earl of Buckingham — Status: Imposter The scam of pretending to be British peerage is still going strong. A few months ago we heard about that guy in Minnesota who was picking up teenage girls by claiming to be the Fifth Duke of Cleveland (aka the Earl of Scooby). Now comes word of a far more elaborate scam. The man in question called himself Christopher Buckingham, the Earl of Buckingham. He had been living under that identity for almost twenty years. Police realized last year that he was living under a…
Posted: Tue May 09, 2006.   Comments (8)

Inauthentic Paper Detector — Status: anti-counterfeit technology Last year I posted about a group of MIT students who created an Automatic Scientific Paper Generator, capable of creating "random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations." One of the papers created by this program was accepted for presentation at the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics. To stop something like this happening again, researchers at the Indiana University School of Informaics…
Posted: Fri Apr 28, 2006.   Comments (15)

Mystery Man Found On Raft — Status: Undetermined Last Friday a man was found floating on a makeshift raft in the Skagerrak strait between Sweden and Norway. He claimed that he had been set adrift four days ago by another ship. He also said that his name was George Williams, and that he had been born in Cape Town. Within a day he had added details to his story and now said that his parents were Russian-Jewish parents, but that he had been given up for adoption at an early age. Authorities doubt that he could have…
Posted: Mon Apr 24, 2006.   Comments (2)

Victoria’s Secret Basketball Prank — Status: prank Here's a prank that definitely rates as one of the more inventive (and cruel) student pranks of recent years. The set-up occurred a week before a NCAA game pitting UC Berkeley against the University of Southern California. USC's starting guard, Gabe Pruitt (pictured), met a UCLA coed named Victoria online. They traded messages via AOL Instant Messenger. She sent him her picture. He sent her his. They arranged to meet after the game on March 4. The sinker occurred during…
Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2006.   Comments (10)

Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax — Status: Final nail in coffin of JT Leroy Just in case there was anyone who still doubted that JT Leroy was a hoax, the deception has finally been admitted to by an insider, Geoffrey Knoop. Knoop was the partner of Laura Albert, the woman who (it can now definitely be said) wrote all of JT Leroy's books. The face of JT Leroy, whenever Leroy made any public appearances, was Savannah Knoop, Geoffrey's half-sister. Geoffrey Knoop has said: "The jig is up... I do want to apologize to people…
Posted: Tue Feb 07, 2006.   Comments (2)

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