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Identity/Imposters
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.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 11, 2013
Comments (1)
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 got suspicious. A representative for "Charles Sherman Public Relations" who represents Asner says the page is fake and that the actor has never had a Facebook page.

Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters, Social Networking Sites
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 08, 2013
Comments (0)
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 as it were, was Sylvia Jones. She was actually a he — Cal Nixon, a male USC student who had dressed up as a woman as a prank in order to enter the contest.


What made this slightly more than just your average campus prank was the involvement of Max Factor, the famous makeup artist for the Hollywood stars. Factor had agreed to do Nixon's make-up, decking him out in a "gossamer-gold wig" and half-inch eyelashes. He also supplied a professional glamour photographer to take the picture used for the contest.

Unfortunately, Jones/Nixon never got a chance to see if he/she could win the title of Campus Queen, because a co-conspirator told the administration about the prank before the final vote could take place, and the Dean of the University, Francis Bacon, promptly declared that a male Queen wouldn't be allowed. So all the votes for Sylvia Jones were thrown out.

The prank, once it was revealed, made national news, thanks to a wire story that appeared in hundreds of papers.


Today what Cal Nixon did may not seem like a particularly noteworthy or shocking prank, but it was different times. Though, of course, we're still dealing with gender issues in beauty contests, such as that flap last year about whether Jenna Talackova, who was born a man but became a woman, could compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant [Daily Mail]. Talackova looks a lot more like a woman than Jones did!


Jenna Talackova

For what it's worth, the final winners of the USC Campus Queens contest were Mary Blake, Jean Glover, Muriel Gotthold, Colleen Phipps, Lynn Walker, and Virginia Zerman.

Categories: Identity/Imposters, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Sat Feb 02, 2013
Comments (1)
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, 32, of Hollywood, has been charged in the death of Shatarka Nuby, 31, of Tamarac...
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Nuby had paid Morris, known as The Duchess, hundreds of dollars to inject her at her home with the concoction which promised to enhance her buttock, hips, thighs and breasts. Morris would sometimes be dressed in scrubs, giving the impression she was a medical worker — a doctor or a nurse, but detectives say she was a fake...
Following Nuby’s death, Morris was charged in Broward with three counts of practicing medicine without a license. Prosecutors say she injected many patients with a dangerous mixture of products including mineral oil, rubber cement, Fix-a-Flat and caulk. Many of the items were purchased at The Home Depot.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 27, 2012
Comments (1)
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 Chick-fil-A, vigorously supporting the company's claim that it stopped including toys from the Jim Henson Company in its kids meals because it concluded the toys were dangerous (not that the Henson Company pulled its toys in reaction to anti-gay comments by Chick-fil-A's COO, as has been widely assumed).

Then someone pointed out that Abby's profile picture actually came from the stockphoto company Shutterstock. Soon after that, her account disappeared.

Chick-fil-A insists it wasn't responsible for the Abby Farle account, and that might be true. Abby could easily have been the creation of someone in the company, or associated with it, acting alone.

Links: gizmodo, buzzfeed

Categories: Advertising, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 25, 2012
Comments (4)
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 great, great grandfather by King Ferdinand of Spain. His father, currently living in Canada, was the reigning emperor, but chose not to claim the title.




Barnes points out his family's 'lost empire' on a globe (source: USC Archive)

As royalty, Barnes believed that he could not be tried by the court. He demanded that subpoenas be issued instead to President Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and California Gov. Goodwin J. Knight.

Unfortunately his arguments didn't sway the court, which held him in jail during the trial because, despite his large land holdings, he couldn't make bail.

Three psychiatrists were brought in to evaluate Barnes. They concluded that he actually believed himself to be the Crown Prince Regent of Thulia. But they nevertheless declared him to be legally sane and fit to stand trial.


The Inter Lake, Mar 3, 1954

Presumably Barnes was found guilty. However, I haven't been able to find any record of what became of him later in life.

Newspaper accounts of his 1954 trial mention that he had earlier served a term in Washington State prison on a bank robbery conviction, and a search of news archives reveals that this previous crime was also somewhat unusual and made headlines. As a 16-year-old boy in Tacoma, Washington, he had held up a bank with a toy pistol. Barnes had grabbed a five-year-old child outside the bank, marched in holding the toy pistol to the boy's head, and handed the teller a note that read, "hand over the money or I'll shoot both you and the kid — he doesn't belong to me." The teller had given him $5,050. Barnes then released the boy and fled, but he was later picked up at his parents' house by police.

Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 28, 2012
Comments (1)
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 published in the Telegraaf. Links: LaMa's thread in the forum, msnbc, dutchnews.nl

Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 15, 2012
Comments (1)
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 invested heavily in gold) made a nice profit.

During the 1870s and 1880s, Joseph Mulhattan (a very odd character) made a kind of career out of tricking newspapers into printing fake stories. One of his more notorious hoaxes was when he fooled papers into reporting that a giant meteor had fallen in Texas. And on April Fool's Day 1915, a worker in the printing press of the Boston Globe surreptitiously made a minor alteration to the front page of the paper, lowering its price from Two Cents per Copy to One cent.

Technology changes, but the hoaxes remain much the same. And so yesterday a group of pranksters calling themselves The Script Kiddies (or TH3 5CR1PT K1DD3S) managed to hack into the Twitter feed of NBC News and posted a series of fake newsflashes. The first of these announced: "Breaking News! Ground Zero has just been attacked. Flight 5736 has crashed into the site, suspected hijacking. more as the story develops."

Obviously NBC News didn't much appreciate this. Their Twitter account was soon taken offline and the fake messages deleted.

The Script Kiddies perpetrated a similar stunt back in July when they hacked into the Twitter account of Fox News and posted tweets claiming President Obama was dead.

According to an interview they conducted with Think magazine, The Script Kiddies see themselves as anti-corporate activists, and they intend their pranks to embarrass and annoy the corporations they target.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Journalism, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 12, 2011
Comments (1)
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 described as nobody special, just a random person.

Apparently Packer is still going strong. The Philadelphia Daily News admits that they were the latest paper to fall for his act.
(Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 05, 2009
Comments (1)
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 stealing at several hospitals. Stearley also been spotted before in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Virginia, Georgia, Texas and Washington, D.C. Allan Klein and Justin Baker lived with Stearley and say he left the home Sunday morning with his laptop and a few belongings. The roommates say they are shocked and had no idea that Stearley was hiding something. Stearley had been living with them for about two months. He told them he'd graduated from the University of Michigan and had been accepted to Notre Dame Law School. "There must be thousands of dollars worth of Notre Dame textbooks, in his room, like it's almost like he believed that he was a student," said Baker.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 03, 2009
Comments (2)
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.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 22, 2009
Comments (1)
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 Restaurant to verify Gorur's claim. Instead, the reporter interviewed someone (whose phone number was supplied by Gorur) who claimed to be Gorur's boss. It's not known who this person was.

Second, when the paper asked Gorur if they could take some photos of him at work, he said it was too dark there and convinced them to take photos of him preparing food at home. That should have set off their b.s. alert, but instead the paper agreed to send a photographer to his house.

The reporter, Krystin Wiggs, wrote:

I may be a young and relatively inexperienced reporter, but the other reporters in my office have never come across a scenario quite like this one. Not one reporter in my office could think of a time in their careers when a source had made up such an elaborate hoax and then conned a reporter.

Cranky Media Guy comments: "From personal experience, I can tell you that when you bullshit a reporter who is too lazy to do any fact-checking, it's always described later as an 'elaborate hoax.'"
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 20, 2009
Comments (14)
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