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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
Ralph Napierski, Fake Bishop — On Monday, a man calling himself "Basilius," wearing a cassock, black fedora and purple sash, tried to gain access to the pre-conclave meeting of cardinals at the Vatican. He made it through one level of security before being stopped by the Swiss Guard. Spiegel Online has a profile of the guy, whose real name is Ralph Napierski. Apparently Napierski has a history of posing as a Catholic bishop, though Spiegel isn't quite sure what to make of him, debating whether he's "a joker, a church…
Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2013.   Comments (0)

104-year-old woman forced to lie about age on Facebook — On the internet nobody knows if you're a dog. And on Facebook, nobody knows if you're really a 104-year-old woman... because Facebook won't accept 104 as a valid age! Woman, 104, forced to lie about age on Facebook dailyherald.com Marguerite Joseph can be forgiven for lying about her age on Facebook. The 104-year-old Michigan woman's granddaughter says Joseph is unable to list her real age on the social media site. Gail Marlow says when she tries inputting her grandmother's birth year…
Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2013.   Comments (3)

The Fake Beggar of Gothenburg — Over in Gothenburg, Sweden, locals were puzzled by a homeless person begging for money at the train station, who, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a doll. Police thought it might be some kind of fraud (i.e. a homeless people using a mannequin to beg for him). But it turned out to be the work of a 13-year-old kid, Adam, who created it as "something fun" for a school art project. Brings to mind Alan Abel's Omar the Beggar hoax. The english-language article didn't have a picture…
Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2013.   Comments (0)

Romance author Jessica Blair is really elderly grandfather Bill Spence — I actually find it more surprising that he's still cranking out books at the age of 89 than that he's using a female pen name. Good for him! It's inspiring! Bills and boon! 'Female' romance author Jessica Blair unmasked as 89-year-old grandfather Daily Mail The grandfather from Ampleforth, North Yorkshire, was told his books would need to be printed under a feminine moniker if he wanted them to sell - and so his pseudonym Jessica Blair was born. Bill, 89, has so far written 22 romance…
Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013.   Comments (1)


Fake Ed Asner tries to help Pittsburgh cinema — Yet another example of a celebrity imposter masquerading online. In this case, the imposter evidently thought their deception was for a worthy cause. Nevertheless, it's still a deception. Fake Ed Asner Endorses Struggling Dormont Theater CBS Pittsburgh The Facebook post from the fake Ed Asner page reads "Help the Hollywood Theater! One of Pittsburgh's last historic neighborhood cinemas. I have found memories of visiting this venue as a much younger man while visiting relatives. I'll…
Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2013.   Comments (0)

USC Glamour Queen Hoax, 1944 — In April 1944, the University of Southern California held its annual Campus Queens beauty contest. Each dormitory and sorority was allowed to put forward one candidate. Several "non-org" (or non-affiliated candidates) were allowed to enter the contest as well. This made for a total of 20 contestants vying for the title. Six winners would be selected by an all-university vote. Their prize was that their full-length portrait would appear in the university yearbook. (Not much of a prize,…
Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2013.   Comments (1)

The Fix-a-Flat Faker — When a doctor starts injecting bathroom caulk into your buttocks, I think that's a good sign he/she isn't entirely on the up-and-up. Fake Fix-a-Flat nurse arrested, charged with manslaughter in Fla. client’s death bradenton.com BROWARD — Oneal Morris, the transgender woman charged in two counties with injecting people seeking fuller figures with a toxic concoction which included Fix-a-Flat, on Thursday was charged with manslaughter in the death of a Broward County client. Morris,…
Posted: Fri Jul 27, 2012.   Comments (1)

Was Abby Farle a Chick-fil-A sock puppet? — Wikipedia defines a sock puppet as "an online identity used for purposes of deception." And it looks like the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A just got caught red-handed using one. The sock puppet in question was one "Abby Farle" — whose Facebook profile picture showed her to be a teenage girl. But there were some odd things about Abby. For a start, her Facebook account was only created a day ago, and during her brief time on Facebook her sole activity appeared to be defending…
Posted: Wed Jul 25, 2012.   Comments (4)

The Crown Prince Regent of Thulia, 1954 — In February 1954, Gerald Wayne Barnes, a 26-year-old dishwasher, was arrested and charged with forging his employer's name on checks. Barnes offered an unusual defense. He didn't deny the crime, but he insisted that the Santa Monica superior court had no jurisdiction over him because he was the Crown Prince Regent of Thulia — a vast kingdom stretching from Kansas to the Oregon Coast (but not including land south of San Francisco). Barnes claimed that this kingdom had been given to his…
Posted: Thu Jun 28, 2012.   Comments (1)

Forest Boy Confirmed as a Hoax — Quite a few have suspected "Forest Boy" might be a hoax, ever since he showed up at a youth emergency center in Berlin last year (Sep 5, 2011). He said he had been living in the woods with his father for the past five years. That story, authorities have now determined, is false. He's actually a 20-year-old man from the Netherlands who went missing a few days before showing up in Berlin. His real name is Robin van Helsum. He was IDed by former classmates after his picture was recently…
Posted: Fri Jun 15, 2012.   Comments (1)

The Script Kiddies Strike Again — There's a long history of hoaxers finding ways to slip fake stories into newspapers. Back in 1864 Joseph Howard tried to manipulate the New York stock market by sending fake Associated Press telegrams to newspaper offices. The telegrams claimed Lincoln had decided to conscript an extra 400,000 men into the Union army. Several papers printed the fake news. The stock market panicked, because the news suggested the Civil War was going to drag on for a lot longer, and Howard (who had…
Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2011.   Comments (1)

Mr. Man on the Street Strikes Again — I wrote about Greg Packer, aka the phony Man on the Street, in Hippo Eats Dwarf: In 2003, media critics noticed that the same man kept popping up time after time in “man on the street” interviews. Greg Packer, a highway maintenance worker from upstate New York, was quoted by The New York Times, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the London Times, and other publications. He also appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. But he was always…
Posted: Thu Nov 05, 2009.   Comments (1)

Wanted: Serial Fake Student Gary Stearley — From First Coast News: Notre Dame law students were sent an e-mail from Notre Dame officials on Friday stating a person identifying himself as Gary Stearley is posing as a law student and is not actually enrolled at the university... Gary Stearley has been involved in fake identity scams before and Notre Dame police suspect this is the same person... Stearley was arrested back in 2001 in Jacksonville, Florida for impersonating a physician's assistant, as well as trespassing and…
Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009.   Comments (2)

Another fake cancer victim — Yet another cancer hoaxer unmasked. Jonathan Jay White claimed to be a 15-year-old from Idaho suffering from Anaplastic Astrocytoma (a kind of brain cancer). He gained a lot of supporters online, including Lance Armstrong, who sent him a number of gifts. But it now appears that Jonathan Jay White never existed. Details at news.sky.com and jonthanjayisafraud.blogspot.com.
Posted: Wed Jul 22, 2009.   Comments (1)

Vinayak Gorur, sous chef — On May 13, 2009 the Ahwatukee Foothills News ran an article about Vinayak Gorur, a local guy who, at the age of 21, had become the youngest ever sous chef at the upscale Compass Restaurant in downtown Phoenix. But a few days ago, the paper ran an apology, admitting that Gorur wasn't really a sous chef at the Compass. Gorur had invented the entire tale. Why isn't clear. A few things evidently went wrong in the paper's fact checking process. First, they never called the Compass…
Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2009.   Comments (14)

Another case of a phony veteran — Jack Livesey claimed he was in the Parachute regiment of the British Army, did five tours of duty in Northern Ireland, and won a military medal. He was a guest of honor at the 25th anniversary commemorations of the Falklands War. But the British Ministry of Defense says, "Jack Livesey (DOB 15/05/54) only served in the British Army in the Army Catering Corps from December 1971 until April 1974." Livesey also claims he was a miltary adviser to Saving Private Ryan, though he wasn't paid…
Posted: Fri Jul 03, 2009.   Comments (4)

Woman insists she isn’t a man — Shifa Patel wore a full-length robe and hijab to her job as a secretary at a Muslim Girls' school in Lancashire. This concealed her features. But when pictures of her dressed in a shirt and trousers began to circulate at the school, concerned parents thought she looked like a man and demanded she be fired. Patel insisted she wasn't faking her gender, that she really was a woman, and even had a doctor's certificate to prove it. But to no avail. The complaints continued, and she…
Posted: Mon Jun 22, 2009.   Comments (4)

Castro’s son hoaxed by fake woman — Fidel Castro's son, Antonio Castro, has learned the hard way the truth of the saying, "On the internet, the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents." A cuban exile, Luis Dominguez, created a fake online persona -- "Claudia, a 27-year-old Colombian sports journalist" -- and used it to conduct an online relationship with Castro's son. He did it, he said, to expose the opulent lifestyle of the Castros. From the BBC: Claudia made contact with Antonio and they…
Posted: Wed Jun 17, 2009.   Comments (3)

Online Pseuicides — Howard Swains recently reported in Wired on the phenomenon of fake online deaths. He writes: Many online tales of death and suffering are works of complete fiction, "pseuicides" dressed up as real-life catastrophes. Some are contrived to titillate or garner attention, some result from something more serious, and some are the result of a uniquely modern psychiatric disorder known as Munchausen by internet. And: In two investigations between 2007 and 2009, I encountered countless…
Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2009.   Comments (7)

The Next Mr. Rogers? — 18-year-old Michael Kinsell has a dream of being the next Mr. Rogers. Last year he started telling people at his school that he was filming a show called Michael's Enchanted Neighborhood, and that it was going to be aired on PBS. The show was modeled closely on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. From pointweekly.com: Each show will begin much as Mr. Rogers' did, with Kinsell singing a song, "It's a Lovely Day Today to Play," as he puts on a sweater and sneakers. Then a "neighbor," such as an…
Posted: Fri Jun 05, 2009.   Comments (3)

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