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image 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 in the neighborhood. Please put this tablet into the drainage pipe if the tap water becomes turbid or gives off a foul smell," one of the men was quoted as telling the resident. The men later visited the home again and asked the resident if they used the tablet. No sewage work was underway at the time. A 70-year-old woman living in Kanagawa-ku, Yokohama, was told to swallow the tablet they gave her. They subsequently visited her home and asked her if she took it. When she answered she did not swallow it, the men asked her why she failed to take it.

So let me get this straight. Some guys are going around, posing as sewage workers, and giving people free drain-clearing chemicals. And sometimes they're trying to get people to swallow these chemicals. These sound like very disturbed individuals, but I'm also getting the sense that there's more to this story than is being reported here.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 15, 2007
Comments (5)
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 1.7kg shark was given to a worker at the Malaysian Fisheries Development Board in Penang. When she noticed the feet, she gave it back to the fisherman, who threw it back into the sea.
(Thanks, Richard.)

Homer Simpson Appears on Pizza
With a hopeful-sounding minimum bid of $100, the seller from Kentucky has yet to garner a single taker for his piece of half-eaten pizza with the image of Homer Simpson on it.
(Thanks, Andy.)
Categories: Advertising, Animals, eBay, Food, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Flora on Sat Mar 24, 2007
Comments (13)

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 Obama was raised in a radical Muslim school.

Protesters for Hire
For around €150 per person, a group of young Germans are offering themselves as demonstrators for whatever protest you happen to be running.

(Thanks, Firefly and Charybdis.)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Miscellaneous, Politics, Sex/Romance
Posted by Flora on Wed Jan 24, 2007
Comments (15)
imageGiant 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 head onto a picture of a model breastfeeding at the anchor desk. The photograph was to illustrate an article on balancing work and motherhood.
Categories: Animals, Birth/Babies, Celebrities, Entertainment, Identity/Imposters, Technology
Posted by Flora on Mon Nov 20, 2006
Comments (8)
imageBull 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 identical twin Jaroslaw, Poland's prime minister, at a European Union summit meeting in Finland.
Categories: History, Identity/Imposters, Miscellaneous, Politics, Pranks
Posted by Flora on Tue Oct 24, 2006
Comments (10)
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 surprising, really.

It was Vanegas' friend Daniel Rasheed that turned him in to the police. He says he wasn't expecting such repercussions.

On September 13th 2006, Vanegas was arrested.

On the day of Vanegas's arrest, criminal trespass charges were filed against him (but later dismissed). Within the next few weeks, campus administrators alleged that Vanegas had taken close to $3,700 worth of food from Rice cafeterias. On September 28, the district attorney's office filed felony charges for aggregate theft. Bail was set at $2,000.

The reason he gave for his fake studies? He didn't get into the university, but it would have broken his mother's heart for him not to attend.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime, Miscellaneous
Posted by Flora on Tue Oct 17, 2006
Comments (34)
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 Tempe, Arizona where he was working at a low-paying job as a grocery bagger. It aired an interview with him in which he talked about the cruel twists and turns his life had taken. Unfortunately for 20/20, the man they interviewed was not William Thomas... The man 20/20 interviewed was an impostor named Bill English who had been claiming to be Buckwheat for the past 30 years.
And I've just now discovered that YouTube has a video from 1990 of A Current Affair interviewing the Buckwheat imposter, after he was exposed. Even though it was clear no one was buying his story any more, the guy still insisted he was Buckwheat. Kind of sad and funny at the same time.

Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 11, 2006
Comments (11)
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 warning has been given: "RELEASE OF ANY TEDDY BEARS into the fish hatchery water IS NOT PERMITTED."

(Thanks, Accipiter.)
Categories: Animals, Art, Entertainment, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 28, 2006
Comments (15)
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 young man was fictional, even when Geoffrey Knoop (the partner of Laura Albert, and half-brother to LeRoy's 'public face', Savannah Knoop) confessed to his part in the scam, he said he doubted Albert would ever admit it, and was quoted as saying:"For her, it's very personal. It's not a hoax. It's a part of her."

Seems he was wrong.

Previous posts on J.T. LeRoy:
February 07 2006 Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
October 10, 2005: Is JT Leroy A Hoax?
January 9, 2006: JT Leroy: An Update

(Thanks, J.)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by Flora on Thu Sep 28, 2006
Comments (3)
image 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 she was a fake.

For anyone who has somehow missed all the hoopla, LonelyGirl15 (aka Bree) was the screenname of a young woman posting confessional-style videos on YouTube. She was attractive and there was a good amount of drama in her life. (Always a winning formula.) A lot of the drama focused around tension with her extremely religious parents, especially since it was not clear what religion they were. Allusions to Satanist occultist Aleister Crowley suggested they weren't your run-of-the-mill religion.

Many people suspected LonelyGirl15 to be a fake. Some of her videos seemed too self-consciously amateur while others displayed professional editing touches.

The issue came to a head when internet sleuths linked the ip address of her emails to a Hollywood talent agency. Then, early in September, a message appeared on the LonelyGirl website from its "Creators" declaring that they were filmmakers and that the entire video blog series was fiction. Their identity remained unknown until a few days ago when LonelyGirl was revealed to be Jessica Rose, a 19-year-old graduate of the New York Film Academy, and "The Creators" were Ramesh Flinders and Miles Beckett.

So is there anything new or never-before-seen about the LonelyGirl hoax? Well, the fake confessional format certainly isn't new. Examples of that can be found as far back as the 18th century with Benjamin Franklin's Silence Dogood letters. Fake confessional blogs aren't new either. Remember the Plain Layne hoax from a few years back? The only novel aspect of LonelyGirl is that it's the first major fake blog in a video format. In other words, it's not all that new.

The other question is: Will people continue to be interested in LonelyGirl now that they know it's fiction. The LonelyGirl creators certainly hope so, but I'm not sure. People display very different attitudes towards what they believe to be real versus what they know to be false, and it's usually not easy for them to change their attitudes. Specifically, people tend to be forgiving of rough edges in reality, whereas they're more demanding of fiction. (Which is one of the reasons why Reality TV shows can get away with being so low-budget.) So now that they know LonelyGirl was fiction they may think back and say, 'Well, it wasn't really all that great.' However, if the story is good, the audience might stay.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Sun Sep 17, 2006
Comments (23)

Mr. Changes Name
Last year Christopher Garnett officially changed his name to "Kentucky fried". (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"? I'll give you a free book if you do. (Thanks, Beverley)

Thames Town, China
image 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 British village being constructed in China. I've heard of faux English towns in Korea also, but the Korean ones are used for English-language instruction.

Imitation French Fries
In response to a ban on fried food in school cafeterias, some Arizona schools are now serving "imitation fries." Or so claims the headline of the article. In reality, they're just fries that have been baked rather than fried. I don't think that really makes them imitation fries. Baked fries can taste pretty good, especially the curly ones seasoned with chili powder.

Religion-Related Fraud Worsens
Scams targeting churchgoers are on the rise. One passage from this article caught my eye: "Leaders of Greater Ministries International, based in Tampa, Fla., defrauded thousands of people of half a billion dollars by promising to double money on investments that ministry officials said were blessed by God." Instead of Sunday school, maybe churches should offer classes in critical thinking. Just an idea.
Categories: Food, Identity/Imposters, Places, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 16, 2006
Comments (19)
Status: Case of mistaken identity
imageIt'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...
"She comes to the house to be fed and to watch the television," he added.
"She comes in dead on time every day and knocks the door with her head if I've forgotten," he added.
"She is growing up exactly like a dog. You can tell she thinks of herself as a dog."
Once her dinner is finished, Rolo will then sit with Mr Roberts as he watches the television and seems to especially enjoy ball games with plenty of action.
I'm not sure what my cat thinks she is. She definitely considers herself better than other cats, but also better than us humans. She probably considers herself a deity.
Categories: Animals, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 07, 2006
Comments (10)
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