The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
The Afghan Prince, 1954
Posted by The Curator on Thu Apr 17, 2014
In 1954, Syed Hassan Osman Mustapha was a young man from Pakistan studying in London. One day he was invited to attend a "knighthood" ceremony at a Rover Scout Group meeting, and while he was there he mentioned that he happened to be part of the royal family of Afghanistan. In fact, he was a prince. He later said that he had intended the remark as a joke, but everyone took him at his word, and he enjoyed the attention so much that he decided to continue the ruse. Soon word of his princely status had spread around the affluent London district of Osterley where he was living, and he found himself being feted…
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History of Formosa on display
Posted by The Curator on Sat Mar 15, 2014
St. John's College in Cambridge is inviting the public to view a famous artifact from the history of hoaxes — a first-edition of The History of Formosa written by George Psalmanazar. [link: Belfast Telegraph] Back in the early 18th century, Psalmanazar posed as a native of Taiwan and had many of Britain's educated elites believing the ruse, even as he invented bizarre stories about the customs of Taiwan. If there was a real Museum of Hoaxes, this would be a great artifact to have on display. But it also shows the difficulty of ever having such a museum, because it turns out these artifacts are incredibly expensive, making…
The Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition Against Justin Bieber
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 25, 2014
After Justin Bieber reportedly looked at a few houses in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, Georgia, a group calling itself the Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition formed to protest him moving to the area. And since the media loves to cover anything related to Justin Bieber, the protest group was soon making headlines, reported on by the BBC, CNN, Daily Mail, Time, Atlanta Journal Constitution, etc. Harold White, leader of the group, told CNN: "We're concerned he'll bring the wrong type of element into a quiet, residential area. It is our position that a person with his means could certainly find a neighborhood more suited to his eclectic lifestyle."
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Wanted: Imposter to study at Harvard
Posted by The Curator on Fri Dec 20, 2013
Four days ago an ad appeared on Craigslist (Pittsburgh) seeking someone to take their place at Harvard in return for $40,000/year. The ad has since been removed, but screenshots of it are still floating around the web: You must have either a 4.0 GPA in high school, or a 3.5 or higher GPA from a university to get hired for this. Your age does not matter, but you must be a male since I have a male name. I am looking for someone to attend Harvard University pretending to be me for four years, starting August 2014. I will pay for your tuition, books, housing, transportation,…
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Dave Wilson—Not Black
Posted by The Curator on Wed Nov 13, 2013
Dave Wilson insists he didn't get elected to the Houston Community College System Board of Trustees by "pretending to be black," though many people are now accusing him of doing exactly that. He says he merely ran a smart campaign and used "targeted marketing" to appeal to voters in the majority black neighborhood where he was running. Yes, he avoided putting a photo of his own white face in his campaign literature, but included lots of stock photos of smiling black people. But there's nothing illegal in that. And yes, he did prominently claim to be endorsed by Ron Wilson. People might have assumed…
Andy Kaufman’s Daughter
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 12, 2013
The surprise guest at this year's Andy Kaufman Awards, which took place in NYC over the long weekend, was Andy Kaufman's 24-year-old daughter. The surprise is that Kaufman died 29 years ago. And Andy didn't store his sperm, or anything like that, in order to facilitate post-mortem conception. Andy's brother Michael explained that Andy faked his death because "Andy wanted to go into hiding and live a normal life, that he'd met and fallen in love with a woman and had a daughter, and that he didn't want Michael or anyone to say anything while their own father was still alive. Andy's and Michael's father died this summer. " [via The Comics Comic]
Categories: Death, Identity/Imposters Comments (2)
Who is Veronika Larsson?
Posted by The Curator on Mon Oct 21, 2013
Writing in Sweden's Metro newspaper, Jack Werner describes his effort to track down the identity of someone using a set of online aliases — TheIneffableSwede and Veronika Larsson. It started with him simply wanting to interview this person, because back in July they had left a provocative comment on a Guardian article. But as his search progressed, Werner realized that this person, over the course of the past six years, had created an elaborate fake online persona, with photos showing herself as an attractive young blond woman, and claiming to be a graduate of UC Berkeley and the London School of Economics, and fluent in five languages. None of her story checked out upon investigation, and the…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (3)
Bucky Badger Imposter
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 16, 2013
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has issued a press release warning the public that an imposter Bucky Badger is at large. (Bucky Badger being the university's mascot.) This imposter has been showing up at political rallies, waving protest signs. UW-Madison says that the imposter can be spotted by its "puffy features, odd coloring and sloppy sweater." But the "imposter" is fighting back, noting that Bucky costumes can be bought at the campus book store. So who has the right to say which is the real Bucky and which is the fake one?
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Miss Uzbekistan
Posted by The Curator on Sun Sep 15, 2013
The Miss World Competition (set to begin Sep 28 in Indonesia) seemed quite pleased to have its first-ever representative from Uzbekistan. But perhaps not anymore, because the young woman, 18-year-old Rakhima Ganieva, is attracting more attention than any of the other contestants, and not for the right reasons. The problem is that no one can figure out how she earned the title Miss Uzbekistan. No one in Uzbekistan remembers a selection process. In fact, in her home country they're calling her an imposter. It looks like she simply showed up in Indonesia and declared herself to be Miss Uzbekistan. Miss World officials are, so far, remaining silent about the rapidly growing controversy.…
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Ralph Napierski, Fake Bishop
Posted by The Curator on Thu Mar 07, 2013
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 critic or simply an eccentric with strong leanings toward esotericism." Napierski's history includes: Claiming to be the leader of the "Catholic Order Corpus Dei" (a non-existent order, but perhaps a play on…
104-year-old woman forced to lie about age on Facebook
Posted by The Curator on Mon Feb 25, 2013
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 as 1908, Facebook changes it to 1928. So for the past two years, the Grosse Pointe Shores centenarian has remained 99 — online, anyway.
The Fake Beggar of Gothenburg
Posted by The Curator on Wed Feb 20, 2013
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 of Adam and his "fake beggar," but I found one at a swedish-language site. Gothenburg teen behind 'homeless…
Categories: Art, Identity/Imposters Comments (0)
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 novels under the female pen name since his first was published in 1993, with his latest, Silence of the Snow, due out this week.
Fake Ed Asner tries to help Pittsburgh cinema
Posted by The Curator on Fri Feb 08, 2013
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 double every donation!" Theater manager Chad Hunter was excited but skeptical when he saw the post. He tried sending a thank you message to Asner via the social media website but never heard back. That's when he…
USC Glamour Queen Hoax, 1944
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 02, 2013
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, but I suppose it's something they could show their grandkids later in life.) However, that year an imposter appeared among the candidates. Can you spot who it was? The odd-woman-out, or odd-man-out…
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.