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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
Sheep Thinks She’s A Dog
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 07, 2006
Status: Case of mistaken identity It'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…
Categories: Animals, Identity/Imposters Comments (10)
Vatican Warns on Fake Papal Organist
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jun 02, 2006
Status: Imposter This is over a week old, but it struck me as odd enough to be worth posting anyway: The archpriest of St. Peter's basilica has warned European concert organizers against a musician who is falsely advertising himself as the "official organist" to Pope Benedict XVI... An Italian musician, Massimiliano Mussi, has issued publicity brochures in which he claims to a papal appointment. The cardinal warned promoters that the Vatican has only one official organist, American James Edward Goettsche. "Any other person who claims similar titles or merits should be considered dishonest," the cardinal said. So…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (6)
Will The Real Guy Kewney Please Stand Up?
Posted by The Curator on Sat May 13, 2006
Status: Case of mistaken identity Guy Kewney, editor of newswireless.net, was scheduled to be interviewed by the BBC about the Apple Computer vs. Apple record label case. But as he stood in the lobby of the BBC building waiting to be met by the studio manager, he saw, to his surprise, someone else introduced and then interviewed under his name. Guy Kewney, according to his own description, is "fair-haired, blue-eyed, prominent-nosed, and with the sort of pale skin that makes my dermatologist wince each time I complain about an itchy mole." By contrast, the Guy Kewney being interviewed on air was "Black. Also, he spoke with a French-sounding accent, and he seemed as baffled as…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (5)
The Earl of Buckingham
Posted by The Curator on Tue May 09, 2006
Status: Imposter The scam of pretending to be British peerage is still going strong. A few months ago we heard about that guy in Minnesota who was picking up teenage girls by claiming to be the Fifth Duke of Cleveland (aka the Earl of Scooby). Now comes word of a far more elaborate scam. The man in question called himself Christopher Buckingham, the Earl of Buckingham. He had been living under that identity for almost twenty years. Police realized last year that he was living under a false name when his passport got checked as he was crossing the Channel. (The real Christopher Buckingham…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (8)
Inauthentic Paper Detector
Posted by The Curator on Fri Apr 28, 2006
Status: anti-counterfeit technology Last year I posted about a group of MIT students who created an Automatic Scientific Paper Generator, capable of creating "random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations." One of the papers created by this program was accepted for presentation at the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics. To stop something like this happening again, researchers at the Indiana University School of Informaics have invented an Inauthentic Paper Detector. It's supposed to be able to tell whether a paper has been written by a human or a machine. The researchers write: "The main purpose of this software is to detect whether a technical document conforms to the statistical standards…
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Science Comments (15)
Mystery Man Found On Raft
Posted by The Curator on Mon Apr 24, 2006
Status: Undetermined Last Friday a man was found floating on a makeshift raft in the Skagerrak strait between Sweden and Norway. He claimed that he had been set adrift four days ago by another ship. He also said that his name was George Williams, and that he had been born in Cape Town. Within a day he had added details to his story and now said that his parents were Russian-Jewish parents, but that he had been given up for adoption at an early age. Authorities doubt that he could have been floating out there for four days, given the cold temperatures.…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (2)
Victoria’s Secret Basketball Prank
Posted by The Curator on Fri Mar 17, 2006
Status: prank Here's a prank that definitely rates as one of the more inventive (and cruel) student pranks of recent years. The set-up occurred a week before a NCAA game pitting UC Berkeley against the University of Southern California. USC's starting guard, Gabe Pruitt (pictured), met a UCLA coed named Victoria online. They traded messages via AOL Instant Messenger. She sent him her picture. He sent her his. They arranged to meet after the game on March 4. The sinker occurred during the March 4th game. When Pruitt appeared on the court, UC fans started to chant "VIC-TOR-IA, VIC-TOR-IA." Their chants continued…
Knoop Confesses JT Leroy Was a Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Tue Feb 07, 2006
Status: Final nail in coffin of JT Leroy Just in case there was anyone who still doubted that JT Leroy was a hoax, the deception has finally been admitted to by an insider, Geoffrey Knoop. Knoop was the partner of Laura Albert, the woman who (it can now definitely be said) wrote all of JT Leroy's books. The face of JT Leroy, whenever Leroy made any public appearances, was Savannah Knoop, Geoffrey's half-sister. Geoffrey Knoop has said: "The jig is up... I do want to apologize to people who were hurt. It got to a level I didn't expect." Knoop also says that he doubts Laura Albert will ever admit to being JT Leroy: "For her, it's…
Nasdijj, Native-American Memoirist
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 26, 2006
Status: Phony Here we go again. Another memoirist has been unmasked as a phony. This time it's Nasdijj, celebrated Native-American author of autobiographical works such as The Blood Runs Like A River Through My Dreams and The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping. Turns out he ain't Native American, unless by Native American one means white anglo-saxon protestant. His real identity seems to be that of Tim Barrus, who grew up in a middle-class community in Lansing, Michigan. As Barrus, he was a pioneer of gay "leather" erotica, before the gay community got tired of his antics and he disappeared for a few years, only to…
Man Pretends To Be Nazi To Get Fired
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 16, 2006
Status: Bizarre Excuse Last year Jacques Pluss was fired from his position as a history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University after the school became aware that he was an active member of the American Nazi Party. Now Pluss is saying that yes, he was a Nazi, but he was only pretending to believe all that stuff. It was all part of an effort to go undercover to collect information for a book. So far undercover that no one was aware of his true feelings, except for his mother, who's now dead. Inside Higher Ed reports: Told that the links among various white power groups have been well documented by groups like the Southern Poverty…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (8)
Fake Duke Scam
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 15, 2006
Status: Imposter I kinda thought the posing-as-British-royalty scam had gone out of style with the end of the British Empire. But it seems con artists are still getting mileage out of it, as seen by this story in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press: A group of Stillwater student journalists discovered [Joshua Adam] Gardner had been using a false identity when visiting the school in recent weeks. He'd been posing as "Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland" while staying with a Stillwater family for the past two months, investigators say. Caspian James Crichton-Stuart IV, the Fifth Duke of Cleveland? People believed that? Though it seems his primary targets were…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (3)
Remembering The Plumber From Plympton
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 13, 2006
Status: Marking an anniversary in hoax history The million little biographical lies of James Frey have been getting all the attention in the press this week, but as the Devon Western Morning News reminds us, this month marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of a memoir whose lies were far greater: The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa (aka the Plumber from Plympton). Rampa claimed to have grown up in Tibet (born into a wealthy Tibetan family), to have studied in Lhasa to become a lama, and then to have undergone a mysterious operation to open up the "third eye" in the middle of his forehead.…
J.T. LeRoy: An Update
Posted by The Curator on Mon Jan 09, 2006
Status: Evidence is mounting that he's a hoax Last October I posted about the writer JT LeRoy, and the suspicion that he was an elaborate hoax: that his books had actually been written by a woman named Laura Albert, and that the person who appeared in public as LeRoy was an actor. Today the New York Times has revealed more evidence that seems to confirm this theory. The person who has been appearing in public as LeRoy seems to be Savannah Knoop, the half sister of Geoffrey Knoop (who's the guy that supposedly helped rescue the teenage LeRoy). The Times found an image of Savannah Knoop online, and people who have met LeRoy confirm that…
House For Sale - Princess Caraboo’s Grave Attached
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 06, 2006
Status: A piece of hoax history for sale The Bristol Evening Post reports that the house adjacent to what is believed to be Princess Caraboo's grave in Bristol is up for sale. The asking price is a fairly reasonable £299,950 (about $530,000). (I reported back in 2003 that the gravesite was in danger of being paved over to make a parking lot, but I guess that threat was averted.) I can't find the Bristol Evening Post article online, but here's the property listing. (From the date of the listing, it looks like it's been on the market for a while.)…
Skaggs Strikes Again
Posted by The Curator on Sat Dec 17, 2005
Status: TV show gets hoaxed (but claims it hoaxed first) Hoax master Joey Skaggs has issued a press release describing the latest deception he's been involved in. I can't find the release posted online, so I uploaded the pdf file he emailed to me. I've also excerpted the main part of the release below: Skaggs was contacted by producer Ben Sinden of ITV Factual, about a 90-minute special called "Danny Wallace's Hoax Files," to air in prime time Monday, December 19, 2005, on SkyOne throughout the UK. Sinden said Danny Wallace wanted to speak with the all-time great hoaxer Skaggs to see if he could teach him anything. In Skaggs' experience, producers…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (9)
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