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Identity/Imposters
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 a fee which is why, he says, there was never any public acknowledgment of his help. [BBC News]
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Military
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 03, 2009
Comments (4)
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 eventually decided to resign.

I've only been able to find one picture that shows her face (at freethinker.co.uk). Yeah, she looks kinda masculine. Nice of the parents to show such tolerance toward someone who made the mistake of looking slightly different. Links: Daily Mail, Telegraph.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 22, 2009
Comments (4)
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 chatted on and off for an eight-month period.
Antonio shared details of his daily life in Cuba and his trips around the world with his uncle Raul, the Cuban president, but did not reveal any state secrets.
However, Mr Dominguez says that by showing what he describes as the opulent lifestyles the Castros live in a communist country like Cuba he has achieved his aim.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 17, 2009
Comments (3)
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 examples of fake deaths in all corners of the online world. A contributor to a knitting forum, for instance, faked her death rather than provide patterns she had been commissioned to design. A member of an online art gallery discovered that the 18-year-old, gay, male, lead-singer of a rock band, with whom she had developed a close friendship before he was killed in a car crash, was actually the work of two 14-year-old girls, who had entirely invented his life. A teenage British boy broke up with his real-life girlfriend to marry a 16-year-old online friend, later discovering (on her "death") that his deceased wife-to-be was a 12-year-old fantasist who had been sending photos of her older cousin and inventing graphic details of incest and rape.

No mention of the Kaycee Nicole Swenson case, which I thought was one of the most famous ones. Perhaps it's because Swains focuses a lot on LiveJournal examples. But overall, an interesting article.
Categories: Death, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 09, 2009
Comments (7)
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 artist or plumber, will drop by to discuss his or her profession. Later, Michael tours a factory to discover how "familiar childhood things" are made. He also makes sure to visit the Enchanted Neighborhood to join the puppets and humans there for "whimsical fun and celebrations."

This year he ramped up his story, claiming that he was organizing a star-studded charity event to honor Mr. Rogers, an event that would simultaneously serve as his anointment as the new Mr. Rogers. Celebrities in attendance were supposedly going to include Danny DeVito, Maria Shriver, Bette Midler, Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Barbara Eden and Eddie Murphy. Kinsell and his mother set up a website to promote the event, on which they claimed it "may set a record of the biggest celebrity turnout in the history for San Diego." Tickets were being sold for $500 each.

But it turns out no celebrities were actually planning on attending. As word of this leaked out, the whole scheme collapsed, leading Kinsell to cancel the event. PBS has also demanded that he stop using their name to promote himself. Likewise, Mr. Rogers' production company has demanded that he stop using Mr. Rogers' name. More details at current.org.
Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 05, 2009
Comments (3)
A man has been arrested in Spain for posing as a fake doctor. He was performing breast and buttock augmentations in his home, which was reported to be filthy (full of numerous pets). Plus, he was using veterinary tools to inject liquid silicone. The reason real surgeons haven't used liquid silicone since the 1960s is because it can cause discoloration, open sores, and gangrene. [metro.co.uk]
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 17, 2009
Comments (11)
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.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 23, 2009
Comments (16)
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 is permanent. Is there some meaning, therefore, in the sudden disappearance of a Twitter account thought to be the official account of The Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama?
There may be a higher meaning if you meditate enough but the account was suspended because it violated our Terms of Use regarding impersonation. Using Twitter to impersonate others in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others is also cited in the Twitter Rules. Should His Holiness decide to take up Twittering for real, we'll be sure to Follow.

I have a Twitter account, but I never use it. I can't figure out what the point of Twitter is, especially for people who already have a Facebook account. (Thanks, Cranky Media Guy!)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Social Networking Sites
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 11, 2009
Comments (4)
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 happen again. Which probably means some underpaid intern is getting yelled at. Link: NY Times. (Thanks, John!)
Categories: Email Hoaxes, Identity/Imposters, Journalism
Posted by Alex on Tue Dec 23, 2008
Comments (2)
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 Republic, the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

Additional details at the Huffington Post.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 13, 2008
Comments (8)
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 career to safeguard Barry's secret. The story opens in 1825 in the South African Cape, where Somerset is governor of the garrison colony facing a rebellion. The skill of the new surgeon, known as James Miranda Barry, soon attracts his attention, but the attraction between the two must be suppressed in an era when any hint of homosexual activity would have led to execution. Once Somerset discovers Barry's true identity, they embark on a dangerous affair. Barry's hidden gender remains protected, while the governor is eventually disgraced. The film, which also stars actors Sean Pertwee and Mark Strong, goes on to chart the dramatic resolution of this love story.

(Thanks, Joe!)
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 23, 2008
Comments (1)
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 America, where he met Warhol while working as a waiter in a café. His life then appears to have evolved into a nomadic, drug-fueled odyssey that took him between California, Mexico, Madrid, India and Sri Lanka, working in a variety of styles from conventional portraiture and illustration to pop art and assemblage.

Here's the problem: There's no birth or death certificates. There's no solid evidence at all (such as a body) that Psaier existed. There's just a few sworn statements.

Smells like a hoax to me. The question is: Who's behind it?
(Thanks, Bob!)
Categories: Art, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 17, 2008
Comments (1)
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