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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Identity/Imposters
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)
The Husband Mannequin
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 13, 2005
Suzy Walker's husband is away from home, serving on the USS West Virginia. But you'd hardly know he was gone, because Suzy carries around a life-size mannequin of him: Walker bought her stand-in man for $200 and she takes him everywhere. He's been to the movie theater, Victoria's Secret, and the gas station to buy lottery tickets. The couple attracts lots of attention. The only thing that could make this creepier would be if it turned out she didn't have a real husband. Didn't William Faulkner write a short story with a premise like that?
John Just Wants To Go Home For Christmas
Posted by The Curator on Sat Dec 10, 2005
Status: Hoax Here's a sob story that was reported by the Brazosport Facts: A boy named John, 10, separated from his mother since the hurricane, was living with other foster children in an emergency shelter, and he had one Christmas wish: to go home. "But there's no way I'll get gifts for Christmas. I don't even believe in Santa anymore," he was quoted as saying. Quite touching, except John doesn't exist. He was invented by a caseworker with state Child Protective Services in Brazoria County near Houston. The caseworker was evidently hoping to use the phony sob story to drum up charitable contributions. The hoax was discovered by…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (7)
Alibi Network
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 22, 2005
Status: Real In June 2004 the New York Times published an article about alibi networks, which are informal networks of people who will provide excuses for each other: Cellphone-based alibi clubs, which have sprung up in the United States, Europe and Asia, allow people to send out mass text messages to thousands of potential collaborators asking for help. When a willing helper responds, the sender and the helper devise a lie, and the helper then calls the victim with the excuse -- not unlike having a friend forge a doctor's note for a teacher in the pre-digital age. …
Fake Family Software
Posted by The Curator on Sun Nov 13, 2005
Status: Hoax-facilitating software Genealogists are in an uproar about new software that allows people to create fake (but real looking) online family trees. The program is called Fake Family. (Because of the controversy, the website of the software maker is now given over to an Open Letter to Genealogists.) Genealogists argue that the fake information created by this program could easily find its way into real family history databases. They also charge that the only purpose of the software is to create webpages that will lure people with false information, and then profit from advertising links. The maker of the software, Don Harrold, defends his creation by insisting it's…
Categories: History, Identity/Imposters Comments (56)
Dr. Richard Chopp (unfortunate name for a urologist)
Posted by The Curator on Mon Sep 26, 2005
Status: Real I would think twice (and then maybe another three or four times) before going to a urologist named Dr. Dick Chopp. I would also suspect the name had to be a joke. But it doesn't seem to be a joke. It's his real name. He works at the Urology Team, based in Austin, Texas: Dr. Richard (Dick) Chopp is well known in the Austin community for performing Vasectomies. He also enjoys treating patients with metabolic evolution of kidney stone disease, male endocrine urology disorders, prostate disease and Peyronie's disease. He has extensive laparoscopy surgery experience, is on the transplant team and performs Living Donor Nephrectomy. He joins that select…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (19)
Skype Prank
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 07, 2005
Here's a prank perpetrated on the Skype system (an internet-based phone and chat service) that proves you never know who you're talking to online: A profile is put up with a girl's name and picture, and put in "Skype me" mode. Within minutes some seedy guy will invariably try calling/chatting, and there's a little program I made running the whole time which will partner up people 2 at a time, and send messages from the first person to the second, & vice versa. This way both people think they're talking to a girl, when they find out, well, they're not normally too happy about it... It reminds me of the VixenLove program…
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Pranks Comments (10)
Piano Man Was a Hoax
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 22, 2005
Back in May I wrote an entry about the Piano Man mystery (the institutionalized piano player in England who was lacking an identity). At the time I doubted it was a hoax, but I was wrong. My wife, who immediately said his story reminded her of Princess Caraboo, was right. He was pretending to be mentally ill. (According to the article "he had previously worked with mentally ill patients and had copied some of their characteristics.") A few days ago, he suddenly started speaking and revealed his identity. Now he's been sent back to Germany, his home country. Although the authorities…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (15)
Oompa Loompa Imposters
Posted by The Curator on Sat Aug 20, 2005
For years Ezzy Dame has been living a lie. Thirty four years ago he padded his resume with the claim that he had played an Oompa Loompa in the 1971 version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. With the release of the recent version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, reporters sought him out for his opinion, as an ex-Oompa Loompa, about the film. This caught the attention of a real ex-Oompa Looma, Rusty Goff, who outed him. Goff claims that he's aware of other "Oomposters." There are other Oomposters, Goff said. One little entertainer in New York tried to…
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (23)
Wired Article About Peter Lynds
Posted by The Curator on Thu May 26, 2005
Wired has an article in its current issue about the amateur time-theorist Peter Lynds. Lynds and I had quite an argument going about two years ago. This argument gets mentioned in the Wired article: For a while, the question of whether instants exist was superseded by the question of whether Lynds exists. His claims were so outlandish, the scandal they provoked so fervent, and his home country (apparently) so exotic that the Internet Museum of Hoaxes briefly decided Lynds wasn't real. He spent months corresponding with the webmaster to clear that up. This part of the Lynds controversy turns out to be the only mystery I could resolve without knowing advanced physics. …
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (29)
The Piano Man
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 18, 2005
In the past few days the 'Piano Man' has been getting a lot of attention. He's a guy who was found "wandering on a windswept road on the Isle of Sheppey". He was dripping wet and very confused. The authorities took him to a hospital where the staff discovered that although the guy refuses to say a word, and they have no idea of his identity, he is an accomplished piano player. He's now been at the hospital for a couple of weeks, during which time he hasn't said a word, but he loves to play the piano. All of this seems very similar to the case of the pianist David Helfgott, who was depicted in…
Kaycee Nicole in Training
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 07, 2005
Interesting letter in today's Dear Abby: DEAR ABBY: I am a 10-year-old girl who has been playing after school on a Web site for pet lovers. I like to talk to kids older than me — 14- or- 15-year-olds. A lot of the boys I've talked to have asked for my picture, so I went to Google and found a picture of a pretty blond girl around 15 years old. I have been sending this picture to all the people who have asked me for one. So this is what the future holds for us. A whole generation of Kaycee Nicole Swensons in training.
Categories: Identity/Imposters Comments (33)
Confessions of a New York Escort
Posted by The Curator on Sun Jan 02, 2005
The latest possible faux-blog gaining attention is nyhotties.com, the online diary of a twenty-something New Yorker named Alexa who quit her job as an editor's assistant at a fashion magazine a few years ago and became an escort (her blog is somewhat safe for work, R-rated language, but relatively tame images). This immediately invites comparison to Belle de Jour the supposed London call girl who kept a blog. Belle managed to secure a book deal from her true-confessions blog (her book arrives in stores in just two weeks). Like Belle, Alexa doesn't offer any proof to back up her claim that she's a call girl. You just have to take her word for it. Also like…
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