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Faking Victimhood To Get Attention / Celebrity / Notoriety

Mighty_Emperor

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Although it touches on other topics that come up here:

Munchausen Syndrome

Missing Persons (who aren't actually missing).

It seems like a broader topic that might need its own thread. A report:

Filling a need for attention

Recent, well-publicized victim hoaxes show people who go to extremes to get noticed


BY JOHN JURGENSEN/THE HARTFORD COURANT

April 20, 2004

For some people, the light of human attention has an unbearable brilliance. Like ivy along the dim edge of a garden, they prefer the social shadows, shunning parties, publicity and fame of any sort.

Then there are the flowers of the human arboretum. For them, being in the radiant view of others seems necessary for life itself. From Hollywood to fabricated prime-time reality, this spotlight-dependent species is thriving.

But what about the individuals who crave attention for more desperate reasons? Those who resort to unusual and unscrupulous ways to get it? Lately, it seems, a dark bloom of these characters has emerged. For motives known only to themselves, they have won notoriety by drawing on an almost sacred well of social status: victimhood.

Recently, national news outlets tracked the disappearance of Audrey Seiler, a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Police and hundreds of concerned citizens searched for four days before Seiler was discovered in a marsh. Nearby was duct tape, cold medicine and other implements that Seiler said her kidnapper had used. Within hours, however, her story fell apart. Within days of Seiler's return, police announced that her abduction had been a hoax.

Why would a popular student make herself vanish? Her motive remains a mystery, but perhaps it had something to do with the search parties, the campus prayer vigils and the news bulletins that whirled around her.

On Wednesday, Seiler was charged with two misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers. Each charge carries a jail sentence of up to nine months and maximum fine of ,000.

"It's like a flea jumping up on a passing animal," said Stuart Fischoff, a professor of media psychology at California State

University at Los Angeles. The attention "does allow for a tremendous amount of publicity - locally, regionally, nationally - if your story is good enough. It's the answer to the prayer, 'Please, God, don't let me be normal. Cut me from the herd of mediocrity.'"

Sympathy is a powerful sentiment that can connect complete strangers. But if it's used to manipulate, the backlash can be much more intense.

In February, a Waterbury, Conn., man was arrested as a result of a scheme to exploit sympathy. Edward Valentin told reporters that he had received word that his wife, deployed in Iraq as an Army reserve sergeant, had been killed in an explosion.

Police said Valentin admitted the fabrication, reasoning that if people felt sorry for him maybe the military would send his wife home. Evidence, however, points elsewhere.

"This is a case of him wanting to draw attention to himself," said Sgt. Scott Stevenson of the Waterbury Police Department. "He says it was to bring his wife home, but the investigation led us to the possibility that there was another woman."

Moving, high-profile events can act as magnets for needy psyches. One of the most disturbing examples of how people co-opt tragedy came after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"People who had no foundation in their lives sought out the foundation of the World Trade Center," said Rev. Barbara Stout, whose role at Ground Zero included weeding out volunteers with ulterior motives; she encountered dozens.

In her duties, Stout, an interfaith minister and massage therapist, met a woman with a moving, if grimly familiar, story. Sanae Zahani was a young, attractive, well-spoken Moroccan who was grieving for her sister who had perished in the attack. Only after Stout befriended Zahani, found her a place to stay and pulled strings to get her access to Ground Zero, did Stout learn that Zahani had no sister.

"To this day I don't know what her motivation was," Stout said. "She consistently refused to even apply for 'victim compensation' money."

Until the end, that is. She was poised to apply when Stout confronted her. She has not seen Zahani since.

Today, Stout has only theories about what inspired the sham. But her instincts say that the woman she loved like a daughter was greedy for an asset more precious to her than money.

"We tend to elevate victimhood in this society," Stout said. "Sometimes people get drawn into these stories because it's the only way they can be seen, the only way to keep from being invisible."

In its extreme form, such a craving shows up in mental disorders like Munchausen Syndrome, in which sufferers may seek attention by causing themselves harm.

But even when it comes with no diagnosis, a deep craving to be noticed can have a wide impact.

For these individuals, victimhood represents a "pure state of guilt-free entitlement," said psychologist Richard Levak, of Del Mar, Calif. "They go from being utterly deprived to being utterly indulged."

For an example, Levak said, look no further than the child of estranged parents who acts out in class.

"In today's world ... people have become more depressed and disconnected from each other. So you get people who crave affection and attention and approval. They don't know how to ask for it and they don't know how to get it. That leaves them vulnerable," Levak said.

requires (free) registration:

http://www.dailypress.com/features/...0,1,6939903.story?coll=dp-features-familylife

To be honest I think the article is a tad dismissive - these things do go on but I suspect they are symptoms of deeper (and probably widely varied) underlying 'needs'.

Emps
 

OneWingedBird

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Possibly a consequence of our christianised culture, there is a tendency to somehow equate suffering with righteousness.

Or perhaps victimhood for some people is a way of asserting their self importance, or maybe a form of attention that they crave because it's the only sort they've ever known.

It's complex...
 

LeapingEri

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BlackRiverFalls said:
Possibly a consequence of our christianised culture, there is a tendency to somehow equate suffering with righteousness.

Or perhaps victimhood for some people is a way of asserting their self importance, or maybe a form of attention that they crave because it's the only sort they've ever known.

It's complex...

Yes, it is. I have to add that at least in the case of a hoax, the hoaxer gets to run the show. What a feeling of power and importance it must be. I won't go any deeper than that. ;)
 
A

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An relative of mine (we were once close) is a typical victim. She has suffered from most of the bogus daytime TV syndromes. And has mastered (a very transparent and clumsy) version of attention seeking
psuedo - psycho - babble.

(The death of Diana, for example, hugely affected her. She was so upset. She loved it.)

I long ago stopped trusting her but ultimately ended up hating her.

Ultimately - of course - being a victim will probably be seen as a syndrome in itself. And we will be encouraged to feel sorry for them for suffering from victimness.
 

Cider

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Related cases are those whom have claimed to be Vietnam veterans and yet were never anywhere close to action. I believe that one guy actually went around to schools and talked to students about his "experiences".

On a smaller scale I lived with a girl at Uni who claimed that her best friend had died in an accident. And on the first anniversary of my aunts death to breast cancer she told me that she had been diagnosed with it. Very unsettling and quite difficult to deal with- Even if the "sufferer" hasn't got the problem that they claim, it is obvious that they have some sort of problem. It's just more difficult to deal with because it is a "hidden" problem.
 
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I think it has a lot to do with accessibility to media. THere are so many news outlets trying to dig up stories and wdge out the competition that it is rifed with fraudelent cases and people who are seeking attention. Not to mention all the daytime talk programs. Just awful.
 

OneWingedBird

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Related cases are those whom have claimed to be Vietnam veterans and yet were never anywhere close to action.

Oddly enough I used to work with a guy like that, reckoned that he had gulf war syndrome among other things:rolleyes:
 

Mighty_Emperor

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BlackRiverFalls said:
Related cases are those whom have claimed to be Vietnam veterans and yet were never anywhere close to action.

Oddly enough I used to work with a guy like that, reckoned that he had gulf war syndrome among other things:rolleyes:

Couldn't fit this under some kind of delusion or hypochondria? My grandfather had the latter about as bad as it can get and there really was no basis to his problems/delusions (he was probably about as physically healthy as one could get, at least until he was struck down out of the blue by a very rare medical condition) but there was no convincing him it wasn't real and although he ultimately got a lot of attention for it he never did it for that (in fact it turned out that part of the problem was that he wouldn't tell people about what he thought was wrong with him.

I just worry that people may be inferring more self-serving motives when there may be more going on under the surface - that said some people clearly do it for effect so........

Emps
 

Leaferne

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alb said:
An relative of mine (we were once close) is a typical victim. She has suffered from most of the bogus daytime TV syndromes. And has mastered (a very transparent and clumsy) version of attention seeking
psuedo - psycho - babble.

(The death of Diana, for example, hugely affected her. She was so upset. She loved it.)

I long ago stopped trusting her but ultimately ended up hating her.

Ultimately - of course - being a victim will probably be seen as a syndrome in itself. And we will be encouraged to feel sorry for them for suffering from victimness.

BINGO.

I've noticed that some people now not only want to participate in public grief, but be seen participating in it. I think Diana's death triggered it--gave us a template, if you will. Since then, any publicized, tragic death brings out people who want to follow that script.

Case in point: a little girl was abducted in Toronto in October and her body was found recently (story here). This was a very tragic story which dominated headlines for a while, quite understandably. At Cecila's service, *hundreds* (if not thousands) of people showed up. Why? Did *all* those people know her, or her parents? Why were they there?

I suppose I sound heartless now (though I'm quite the opposite). I'm pointing out that it's unlikely that everyone there had some connection with the Zhang family. Reporters and police probably account for a large number, but why would the rest of them be there? I'm sure more than a few were there because something gruesome had happened, and they wanted to be in on the spectacle, or prove their rectitude, or something.

After one of the school shootings in the US, I read an account by one reporter who found the students were very slick, very camera-ready, almost to the point of having been prepped: they were expecting this (the media barrage, not the tragedy) and knew all the right things to say.

(rereading) Hrm, I don't know if I'm explaining myself very well.

Re: hypochondria--surely everyone knows people like that. They always seem to have lots of aches, pains, colds, etc.; they speak knowledgeably about diseases they probably don't have, and they just never seem to spend a productive healthy day. There is something deeply manipulative about these people. (Please note that I am NOT talking about Munchausen's!) I'm talking about the co-worker who excuses her lack of productivity by wittering on about the headaches caused by her wheat sensitivity, or the housewife who spends most of the day lying down, or...

Edited for punctuation.

Re-edited to add the following:: and are there fewer of these people in the US, where health care can be a major expense? I wonder if the hypochondriacs I've known would suddenly get better if they couldn't just waltz into the doctor's office or emergency room for free.
 
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My experience is that people who relish sympathy and high emotion can't be trusted.

I also deeply distrust people who watch TV medical dramas.
 

lemonpie3

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It seems to me that in our society victimhood is rewarded and admired.

To my mind there is very little difference between the hoaxer in the story and the friend who says she's put on weight just so that you can tell her she looks great. By saying 'don't be silly, you look really good' are you helping her low self-esteem, or rewarding her manipulation of your sympathy?

In the same way, the daytime TV 'victim' is rewarded with sympathy & attention, fame & bright lights.

And that's really not so very different to the reward the hoaxer was after (presumably).

I'm inclined to agree with BRF about the christian suffering=righteousness thing, but also let's face it, attention is a pleasant thing. It's pleasant to know that people are interested. Attention-seeking sounds childish but we all do it and it's not necessarily bad. A human being needs attention. My problem is when I feel manipulated into a certain response.

It's sad though that for some people fishing for compliments is the only way to feel good about themselves. Surely there's no pleasure in a compliment extracted in that way? What pleasure is there in attention gained by manipulation and deception?
 

Leaferne

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lemonpie said:
It's sad though that for some people fishing for compliments is the only way to feel good about themselves. Surely there's no pleasure in a compliment extracted in that way? What pleasure is there in attention gained by manipulation and deception?

Perhaps they just don't care--attention is attention, regardless of any qualitative differences. Odds are these folks feel completely ineffectual in their lives and have no real agency or power of their own. Thus, they resort to these methods so that people will focus on them. A healthy person, with decent self-esteem, wouldn't need to do that.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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This kind of thing also seems to be along similar lines although its not necessarily done for sympathy it is the same line of attention seeking, etc. which may be the more impirtant aspect:

04/23/04 - Posted from the Daily Record newsroom


Phony Marine crashes funeral

By Eugene Mulero, Daily Record

Walter K. Carlson has never served in the military, but that didn't stop him from wearing a Marine dress uniform decorated with two dozen medals at a funeral for a Morris County Marine officer on Wednesday.

That is the charge filed against the Summit man by the FBI.

Carlson, 58, was summoned to appear today at 2:30 p.m. at U.S. District Court in Newark before Judge Ronald J. Hedges on charges of illegally wearing military awards at the funeral of Marine Lt. John Thomas "J.T." Wroblewski at Our Lady of the Mountain Church in Washington Township. Wroblewski, 25, who grew up in Jefferson, is Morris County's first fatality in the Iraq war. He will be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

FBI agent Thomas A. Cottone, who was at the funeral, said that Carlson was at the funeral wearing a Marine Corps dress uniform with 24 medals. The uniform bore insignias indicating rank of captain.

"When I saw him wearing those medals, I knew right away what he was doing," said Cottone, who specializes in apprehending people who illegally wear military awards, particularly Congressional Medals of Honor.

Cottone, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Mountain Church, said Carlson first claimed to have earned the medals but later admitted that he had never served in the military.

"I know about 90 percent of all highly decorated officers in the state, and I didn't recognize him," Cottone said.

According to Carlson, who spoke with the Daily Record by phone Thursday, he attended the funeral to personally feel respected and also to honor Wroblewski. He admitted to dressing up as a Marine on almost a dozen other times prior to the funeral. Carlson said he had attended Veterans Day and Memorial Day events in Morris County.

"I did this for myself, nobody else. I always wanted to be in the Marines. I knew one day I would get caught," Carlson said, from his home during the phone interview. "Growing up I was picked on."

Carlson said he never had a psychiatric evaluation, but takes medication for his diabetes. He has lived in Summit almost all his life and works in Dover.

Carlson said a friend who is a veteran gave him access to a military store where he could purchase Marine uniforms and medals.

Agent Cottone explained that common reasons why people decide to impersonate military officers is to impress others, financial gain or because they always wanted to be in the military.

"People who wear these medals falsely do a great disservice to those who earned them. Many Marines have died to serve our country and rightly earn their awards posthumously," Cottone said.

Cottone was made an honorary Marine by the Commandant of the Corps for his work. Cottone is also the FBI's national case agent for investigations into illegal wearing of military awards, he said.

http://www.dailyrecord.com/news/articles/news1-falsemarine.htm
 

hedgewizard1

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A bit of personal insight to some of this, especially the fake Marine.

Several years ago, while travelling across country, I stopped near Ft. Campbell, KY, home of the 101st Airborne Div. Going into a store, I found soldiers holding the door for me, almost saluting, addressing me as sir. Amazing treatment for a fat middle aged civilian. I wondered what was going on. Then I caught a glimpse of myself in a window, and it all became clear. I was wearing my EOD hat. EOD is Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the military bomb squad. The hat was a gift from a police officer I knew. I'd done some research on improvised explosives for him. The hat was his (and my) idea of a humorous gift. But all these fresh young faces saw the hat and assumed that I was one of their own, and someone to be respected. It's my own good luck that I didn't happen across some crusty sargeant major who knew better, and would have been within his rights to knock me out.

The point is, I can understand how someone emotionally needy could come to crave the attention, and do whatever they had to to get it.

Oh yes, and for the record, the hat gets worn only when I'm pretty sure no one will know what it means.
 

millomite

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There is a related illness called Munchausens by Proxy. The afflicted individuals seek attention by injuring someone close to them and unfortunately this can be their own kids. My wife is working in a small village at the moment and a child was killed by his mother in order to get people to pity her.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Doubts amid swastika attack hunt

Monday, July 12, 2004 Posted: 1857 GMT (0257 HKT)



PARIS, France (AP) -- Police patrolled suburban trains on Monday and studied video from surveillance cameras, trying to track down six men who allegedly attacked a young mother and scrawled swastikas on her stomach.

But doubts began to surface about the truth of the attack report that stunned France.

A 23-year-old mother told police that she was robbed by a knife-wielding gang of six young men while riding a train with her infant on Friday morning, then mistreated after being mistaken for a Jew. None of some 20 witnesses came to her rescue, she told police.

Investigators trying to track down the culprits had almost no clues to guide them.

Surveillance cameras at the station where the culprits reportedly left the train showed no young men running from the scene, and no witnesses have come forward despite repeated calls from officials and promises of anonymity.

Both France-Info radio and the television station LCI reported that the young woman had filed several complaints for violence and aggression in the past. Neither provided sources, but LCI said she had filed six such complaints in the past. That information could not be immediately confirmed.

"It is absolutely necessary to have a certitude before speaking," said Paris Police Chief Jean-Paul Proust, when asked about the case on France-2 television. "I have no certitude."

Despite the doubts being cast on the woman's report, officials continued to issue statements of shock and calls to fight anti-Semitism and passiveness by bystanders.

Deputy Minister for Victims' Rights Nicole Guedj met with the young mother, then asked witnesses to step forward, particularly a young man said to have been seated near the mother.

"The gesture that he was not able to make Friday, he must make today," Guedj said.

Guedj also suggested that witnesses who failed to act at the time would not risk being pursued for non-assistance to a person in danger, a crime in France.

"It is difficult to go after people who feel themselves to be in danger," she said.

France was stunned by news of the attack, which emerged over the weekend. The brutality of the aggression, its anti-Semitic character and the fact that no one came to the mother's rescue raised worrisome questions.

"Anti-Semitism is shameful ... but there is also a sickness in our society," said Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. "It's indifference to violence."

He called for courage among citizens, saying that "courage must be quicker than violence."

Police, their information based on the woman's account, said that the gang, described by the victim as between 15 and 20, allegedly grabbed the woman's backpack, taking her money and credit cards.

When they saw that her identification card said she lived in the wealthy 16th district of Paris, they reportedly told the woman: "There are only Jews in the 16th."

The woman told police that the men, described as North Africans and blacks, then cut off locks of her hair, opened her shirt with their knives and used markers to draw three swastikas on her stomach.

Guedj said the woman told her that about 20 people in the train were "capable of seeing" what was happening.

One of the attackers held the woman by her neck, forcing her to keep her head to the ground so that she couldn't see them, several French newspapers quoted police as saying.

Meanwhile, the office of President Jacques Chirac said that crimes involving racism would not be among those benefiting from the traditional Bastille Day pardons on Wednesday.

http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/07/12/france.attack.ap/index.html
 

Leaferne

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:confused: Now why is that ringing a bell? I'm sure I've heard of a similar case before, where someone claimed to have been attacked by assailants who wrote things on his/her body...
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Sunday, July 11, 2004



A 9/11 Phony: New Mexican's Claims of Ground Zero Rescue Work Called Into Question

This is the first in a four-day series on Doug Copp and his dubious claims.

Self-proclaimed rescue guru Doug Copp's mission to ground zero was considered so important that he had clearance to be flown to New York even though all civilian air traffic in the United States had been grounded. Once there, he says he assumed a pivotal role and sustained devastating injuries while wading through the "toxic soup" in search of survivors and victims, and was awarded nearly 0,000 for his injuries. But there is little evidence Copp performed real rescue work, and it is doubtful that he deserves compensation.



By Leslie Linthicum
Journal Staff Writer
Doug Copp made his case to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund last fall with a story that stood out even among the incredible tales of bravery and loss that are the daily bread of a board assigned to compensate victims of the nation's worst terrorist attack.
As the most experienced rescuer in the world, equipped with the only device that could detect the scent of decaying flesh, Copp said, he mobilized a search and rescue team from his home in the East Mountains after the World Trade Center buildings were hit.
He said he flew to New York the next day and undertook the most dangerous work— searching the deepest underground cavities of the rubble.
"For six days, Mr. Copp waded in a toxic soup, breathed toxic air, and had toxins smeared on his body surface," a report by one of his doctors said. "It is unlikely that anyone has ever in human history been exposed to as concentrated or complex a mixture of dangerous chemicals."
Copp's claim to the victim compensation fund said he returned to New Mexico two weeks later and was never the same.
Over the next months, Copp said, his health deteriorated until he could walk no more than a block without resting. His list of 41 medical problems included chest pain, coughing, blurred vision, dementia and a fractured spine.
Kenneth Feinberg, the special master of the fund, heard Copp's case for two hours in Washington, D.C. Then he sent Copp a check for 9,885, tax free.
That might have been the end of the story except for two things.
Copp is not satisfied with the amount of money. He says he will die if he doesn't get at least
Sunday, July 11, 2004



A 9/11 Phony: New Mexican's Claims of Ground Zero Rescue Work Called Into Question

This is the first in a four-day series on Doug Copp and his dubious claims.

Self-proclaimed rescue guru Doug Copp's mission to ground zero was considered so important that he had clearance to be flown to New York even though all civilian air traffic in the United States had been grounded. Once there, he says he assumed a pivotal role and sustained devastating injuries while wading through the "toxic soup" in search of survivors and victims, and was awarded nearly $650,000 for his injuries. But there is little evidence Copp performed real rescue work, and it is doubtful that he deserves compensation.



By Leslie Linthicum
Journal Staff Writer
Doug Copp made his case to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund last fall with a story that stood out even among the incredible tales of bravery and loss that are the daily bread of a board assigned to compensate victims of the nation's worst terrorist attack.
As the most experienced rescuer in the world, equipped with the only device that could detect the scent of decaying flesh, Copp said, he mobilized a search and rescue team from his home in the East Mountains after the World Trade Center buildings were hit.
He said he flew to New York the next day and undertook the most dangerous work— searching the deepest underground cavities of the rubble.
"For six days, Mr. Copp waded in a toxic soup, breathed toxic air, and had toxins smeared on his body surface," a report by one of his doctors said. "It is unlikely that anyone has ever in human history been exposed to as concentrated or complex a mixture of dangerous chemicals."
Copp's claim to the victim compensation fund said he returned to New Mexico two weeks later and was never the same.
Over the next months, Copp said, his health deteriorated until he could walk no more than a block without resting. His list of 41 medical problems included chest pain, coughing, blurred vision, dementia and a fractured spine.
Kenneth Feinberg, the special master of the fund, heard Copp's case for two hours in Washington, D.C. Then he sent Copp a check for $649,885, tax free.
That might have been the end of the story except for two things.
Copp is not satisfied with the amount of money. He says he will die if he doesn't get at least $1 million more for medical treatments.
And there is substantial evidence that Copp's claims of heroism and life-threatening injuries regarding 9/11 are not true. An Albuquerque Journal investigation also found a nearly 20-year history of exaggeration, self-promotion, freeloading and very little evidence of real rescue work.
Copp on various occasions has bartered tales of bravado and heroism for free airline flights, hotel rooms and donations— all in the name of helping innocent disaster victims and saving lives.
One former high-ranking federal disaster official says Copp's modus operandi is to hang around rescue sites and take pictures, then say he played a crucial role.
The Journal's investigation found that Copp's experience in New York generally fit that description.
New York Fire Department Chief John Norman was in charge of the massive rescue and recovery effort at ground zero. He said Copp had no authority to be at the site and played no legitimate role in the search and rescue.
Norman said Copp's claim to have been the first to search collapsed subway tunnels and only one of four people to go underground is "a fraud."
Had he known Copp was on the site, the chief said, he probably would have had him arrested.
Chase Sargent, a night operations chief for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he ordered Copp off the World Trade Center site. Sargent called Copp a phony, and claims by Copp's rescue organization "a bag of lies."
Despite claims to the commission that he spent "a week several floors below ground zero," Copp now concedes he went underground at ground zero just six times for a total of eight to ten hours.
But one of Copp's former colleagues said Copp spent only a few hours at the World Trade Center site in the two weeks he was in New York. According to the diary of Stephen Lentz, each time Copp and Lentz ventured to ground zero, Copp obtained videotape, which he sold to a television news show.
Lentz said Copp visited the set of "Inside Edition" twice and passed much of his time in a nice Times Square hotel, on the phone trying to "drum up publicity for himself" or drinking from the mini bar.
Copp claimed his death-detecting machine helped him recover 40 bodies. In fact, there is general consensus that it didn't work.
Copp's medical claim relied heavily on a report by Dr. Timothy Smith, a California anti-aging specialist.
Smith said Copp's immune system is seriously compromised in ways that affect his breathing and thinking. He said Copp's exposure to molds and toxins have caused autoimmune responses that bring on shortness of breath and swelling of the brain.
But two doctors who reviewed Copp's medical records for the Journal said they do not show Copp was seriously injured or completely disabled.
A pulmonary specialist said the records submitted to the fund show the most serious ailment Copp suffers from is a mild lung restriction. An internist said the records show Copp has mild asthma, is overweight and is clearly depressed.
'A medical miracle'
Copp is a bombastic 52-year-old Canada native with a flair for dramatic exaggeration. He frequently talks about his accolades, which he says include 650 pages of diplomatic papers and thank-you letters and hundreds of hours of video of his rescue missions.
Copp says that lately he's been on the road in his RV.
In wide-ranging phone conversations from various locations on the road, Copp has talked about his health, his heroism and how he hasn't gotten a fair shake. He often rails against Feinberg, head of the compensation fund.
"I'm a medical miracle," Copp said in a phone call from somewhere in Texas in April.
He said his doctor told him that never in history has there been anyone with this concentration of toxins in their system.
"I'm literally trying to stay alive," Copp said in the telephone interview. "I haven't had a single day that hasn't been insufferable pain."
When Copp called two weeks later from a fishing village in Canada, he said Feinberg is "a rat. He's just a plain, son-of-a-bitch rotten rat. He's not doing his job because Congress put the money there to help people like me so we wouldn't be dying in the street."
In another phone call, Copp said, "He told me I was a hero and sentenced me to death."
New Mexicans who traveled to New York with Copp on Sept. 13, 2001, said they were astonished by the claims Copp made to the compensation fund and by his award.
"My understanding of that fund was that it was for the victims and bona fide rescue people," said Eric Wade, a writer and filmmaker who had known Copp only a short time when he signed on as a member of Copp's team. "I'm mortified. I'm horrified that he even made a claim."
Mike Holley, a former North Valley regional chief of the Bernalillo County Fire Department who flew to New York with Copp, said he spent hours crawling through crevasses and saw Copp only twice at ground zero— once when they arrived and again when Copp returned to the underground subway station because his video camera battery had run out and he wanted more footage.
"I went down (underground) and I spent a lot more time than he did," Holley said. "Am I dying? I refuse to take money from the families of the victims."
John Grace, an Albuquerque videographer who also went to New York with Copp, said Copp fits neither of the categories the fund was designed to repay.
"Doug Copp," he said, "is neither a hero nor a victim."
Copp flew to New York on a corporate jet owned by the Journal Publishing Co. and piloted by publisher T.H. Lang with FAA clearance obtained by the office of Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M. Lang said he agreed to take Copp to New York because Copp came recommended as a bona fide rescuer.
He said he didn't realize until he was on the ground in New York that Copp's team consisted of a screenplay writer, a film producer, a cameraman and an adventurer. None had any rescue experience.
On the ride toward the smoldering ruin where thousands of people were still missing and presumed dead, Lang said Copp was telling gruesome tales and laughing. "It was all juvenile, unprofessional," Lang said. "I thought, 'This is bogus.' ''
'Pumped up' truth
Lentz, a state of New Mexico archaeologist who was writing a screenplay about Copp's life and came along on the trip, wrote an affidavit about Copp's work at ground zero at Copp's request.
That affidavit, signed by Lentz in his capacity with the state Office of Cultural Affairs, was part of Copp's claim to prove he was legitimately at the site and was injured. It was the only independent, firsthand evidence, besides Copp's own assertions and his video, of his work in New York.
Today, Lentz says he did not lie in the affidavit but says he "pumped up" Copp's role because he felt badly that Copp said he was ill and in debt.
"I painted a rosier picture of Doug than maybe was the truth," he said. "It is a little pumped up because I wanted to help him with his bills."
Lentz's affidavit said "... numerous casualties, including NYC firemen, rescue workers, EMTs and policemen were located as a direct result of Doug Copp's efforts and equipment."
But Lentz says today that Copp located no bodies that he knew of, although he believes Copp's equipment was used by others who found corpses.
The affidavit also said, "Several stories below ground level, we waded through water, jet fuel and effluents from ruptured sewage pipes and the Hudson River."
Lentz says today that he and others walked through that muck, but Copp was not with him. He also said he saw Copp smear soot on his face to appear he had been in more dangerous circumstances.
In terms of rescue work, Lentz said, "I gotta tell you, he didn't do anything like that."
"He never lifted a bucket," Lentz said. "He didn't do anything."
Lentz said in his affidavit that Copp slipped and fell in the subway area on Sept. 18. The September 11th fund initially refused Copp's claim based on a back injury because it would have had to occur by Sept. 15 to qualify for the fund.
Lentz said Copp asked him to change the date on the affidavit to reflect that the fall occurred earlier. Lentz said he refused and had nothing more to do with Copp.
Copp's initial claim included lung and other injuries, and his subsequent communications with the fund centered on those. Lentz said today he regrets that anything he wrote could have given the impression Copp did legitimate work at ground zero.
"I would never sign an affidavit saying he was the hero of 9/11," Lentz said. "I think basically he was a fraud and a bombast."
In earlier interviews, Lentz was more supportive of Copp and of the affidavit.
He said telling the full story now, "is kind of liberating for me because I've kept this to myself for so long."
Five-hour defense
Copp, when confronted with the accounts of his colleagues and other evidence that dispute his version of events, talked for five hours one Saturday in Albuquerque.
He was alternately angry, boastful and forlorn.
"So now is this going to come out that there's nothing wrong with me? That I'm a total fraud? That it's bogus? That I went there drinking and sitting in the hotel and wiping dirt on my face and now there's nothing really wrong with me?" Copp said.
"That would be . . . the most immoral thing I have ever heard of in all of my years of going and seeing death squads and all sorts of other things. That would be the most immoral, improper thing that I have ever heard of."
Copp provided scant evidence of what he did in New York to respond to assertions that he did nothing. But he attacked at length people who have questioned his claim. Copp said:
- Team members are lying because they are embarrassed about their own actions at ground zero or because they want to steal his body-finding machine technology.
- FEMA officials are lying about him because they are jealous of his TV time.
- The New York Fire Department is lying about him to cover up its cowardice in failing to search for victims.
- Lang is pursuing a vendetta against him because he wouldn't take Lang underground.
When he was asked by the Journal for the name of someone he worked with at ground zero who could vouch for him, Copp offered Ron Hadani, an electrical engineer from New Jersey.
When reached by phone, Hadani described the time he spent with Copp in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as strange.
Hadani, who went to New York to lend a hand, said he ran into Copp at the Jacob Javits Center and Copp took him to ground zero twice.
Hadani said the area they were exploring was dirty and dangerous, but that Copp did not appear to be looking for victims. Copp had a video camera along, Hadani said.
"I don't know if it was picture taking, but if you want my opinion it wasn't rescue," Hadani said.
Hadani said Copp took a lot of video and found no survivors or victims in their time together.
"And then when FEMA threw us out, I realized the whole thing was fake," he said.
$6.5 billion payout
Congress created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to avoid an anticipated onslaught of lawsuits against the airlines whose planes were hijacked and the New York Port Authority, which owned the World Trade Center.
The fund has compensated families of people who died in the four crashed airplanes, on the ground at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center as long as they agreed not to sue.
The fund also has compensated families of rescue personnel killed in the initial response and rescuers who were injured in the aftermath.
The fund, which ended its operation last month, was essentially unlimited by Congress. And Feinberg, a veteran trial lawyer, was given leeway in deciding who got paid and how much. Awards have ranged from $500 to $8.6 million. Feinberg said the fund will have paid out about $6.5 billion.
There are four tests an applicant claiming to be a rescuer must have met to be considered for compensation according to the guidelines set by Congress.
- The rescuer had to have been injured at the site within 96 hours of the planes hitting the World Trade Center buildings, or by about 9 a.m. on Sept. 15.
- The rescuer had to provide proof of physical injury.
- The rescuer had to seek medical treatment within three days of the injury (although Feinberg could make exceptions to that time restriction).
- The rescuer required hospitalization or could show the injury caused partial or total physical disability, incapacity or disfigurement.
Copp told the fund he went to New York on Sept. 12, but didn't even arrive at a New Jersey airport until the afternoon of Sept. 13. He was escorted out of the rescue coordination command center when he went there to get credentials and got to the World Trade Center site several hours later by talking a street cop into taking him in.
His lawyer, Charles K. Purcell of Albuquerque, said in a letter summarizing his claim that Copp "quickly assumed primary responsibility for exploring the subterranean areas of ground zero. Day and night Doug searched for survivors in a place where day and night were indistinguishable ‹ in underground ruins where very few others dared to go."
A videotape made by the film crew Copp brought along shows Copp looking for bodies with his casualty-locating machine and going into a ramp leading to a collapsed parking garage that first night.
The tape shows Copp asking for a dust mask and coughing twice in the underground parking area and commenting "there's a lot of dust in the air."
However, Copp said in an interview in April that the air there was clean.
The videotape also shows Copp interacting that night with a New York Police Department supervisor who instructed him several times to leave the site and check in at the command post before returning.
Copp did neither but motioned for his cameraman to follow and keep filming.
According to team members, Copp was only at the site a few hours and then returned to the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square where he was staying for free.
The site was closed for most of Sept. 14 because of President Bush's visit. Copp spent Sept. 14 making telephone calls to peddle the videotape and arranging an interview with "Inside Edition," according to Mike Miller, a film producer who accompanied Copp on the trip.
Copp also took his casualty-locating machine to the fire station on Roosevelt Island in the East River and team members attempted to demonstrate its use so they could get permission to return to ground zero, where restrictions had become tighter after the president's visit.
Grace and Wade said the machine failed in that demonstration.
By the morning of Sept. 15, when the fund's timetable for injuries ended, Copp had been underground only once, according to Lentz, and had been above ground at ground zero only for a few hours.
Wade, who was in New York with Copp during the time period that coincides with the Sept. 11 fund's requirements for rescue work, said Copp spent most of that time at the Marriott Marquis.
"He was at the hotel and uptown and whereabouts unknown," Wade said. "At the hotel 16 hours a day at least. He was at the hotel when we left and when we got back." ŒBald-faced liar'
Copp says he made two trips to the parking garage and four to the subway area, each time looking for bodies. He said the subway area was where he encountered thick smoke, dripping jet fuel and other liquid that made him sick.
Lentz said he kept a diary of the trip. He said it shows that Copp's first trip into the subway area occurred sometime around midnight on Sept. 16 ‹ which would have been outside the fund's time frame for injury.
That excursion was also videotaped and the video sold to "Inside Edition."
Copp says a message spray-painted on the entrance to the subway underground that said, "DO NOT ENTER ‹ UNSTABLE" is evidence the area had not been searched and proves he was brave enough to go where others would not.
But FDNY Chief Norman said he had gone with crews into the subway stations late on Sept. 11, made the determination that no one had been crushed or trapped and had the areas marked "cleared." Norman said the claim that Copp had authority to clear the underground is untrue.
"That's an absolute fraud," Norman said. "I was the chief in charge of the site. I didn't authorize him to do anything." Norman bristles at Copp's assertion that he searched for survivors or bodies where FDNY or FEMA wouldn't.
"I'll call him a bald-faced liar to his face," Norman said. "That site was thoroughly searched, both primary and secondary searches, before any area was marked off limits. We had people going places and doing things that I never would have permitted in any other circumstance because we had over 300 of our brothers among the thousands missing."
Lentz said Copp's purpose in going into the subway the second time on Sept. 18 was to get more videotape. TV had been stymied by media restrictions and was hungry for more images from ground zero.
Lentz videotaped Copp's second trip to the subway station and said he watched Copp smear soot on his face to appear he had been in a dangerous place.
Copp maintains he did not put soot on his face. He said Lentz must have been confusing him with someone else. When he was told Lentz was sure it was Copp who was involved, Copp said, "That is such an outrageous lie. My God, that breaks my heart to hear that."
Later in the interview Copp said, "I can tell you right now, telling me I put black on my face ‹ I'd rather someone put a bullet hole in me."
A FEMA supervisor said he confronted Copp outside the subway entrance that night and had him removed by police. Copp says FEMA did not have him removed ‹ he was leaving on his own ‹ and that they didn't want him there because he was showing them up.
"They got mad as bloody hell that we went in there, mad as bloody hell, and they came to me and they confronted me with it," Copp said.
Lentz said he stopped working with Copp after that excursion because he thought their purpose at the site should be to help, not to make money off videotapes.
"There wasn't much of an effort to do anything," Lentz said. "It was me training the camera on him. It was really posing for the camera."
The soot-smeared Copp posed for a still photograph when the team emerged from the subway that night, Lentz said.
Copp attached that photo to his cover letter to Feinberg with his claim to the fund. He pointed out, "I am the one with the Black Face."
million more for medical treatments.
And there is substantial evidence that Copp's claims of heroism and life-threatening injuries regarding 9/11 are not true. An Albuquerque Journal investigation also found a nearly 20-year history of exaggeration, self-promotion, freeloading and very little evidence of real rescue work.
Copp on various occasions has bartered tales of bravado and heroism for free airline flights, hotel rooms and donations— all in the name of helping innocent disaster victims and saving lives.
One former high-ranking federal disaster official says Copp's modus operandi is to hang around rescue sites and take pictures, then say he played a crucial role.
The Journal's investigation found that Copp's experience in New York generally fit that description.
New York Fire Department Chief John Norman was in charge of the massive rescue and recovery effort at ground zero. He said Copp had no authority to be at the site and played no legitimate role in the search and rescue.
Norman said Copp's claim to have been the first to search collapsed subway tunnels and only one of four people to go underground is "a fraud."
Had he known Copp was on the site, the chief said, he probably would have had him arrested.
Chase Sargent, a night operations chief for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said he ordered Copp off the World Trade Center site. Sargent called Copp a phony, and claims by Copp's rescue organization "a bag of lies."
Despite claims to the commission that he spent "a week several floors below ground zero," Copp now concedes he went underground at ground zero just six times for a total of eight to ten hours.
But one of Copp's former colleagues said Copp spent only a few hours at the World Trade Center site in the two weeks he was in New York. According to the diary of Stephen Lentz, each time Copp and Lentz ventured to ground zero, Copp obtained videotape, which he sold to a television news show.
Lentz said Copp visited the set of "Inside Edition" twice and passed much of his time in a nice Times Square hotel, on the phone trying to "drum up publicity for himself" or drinking from the mini bar.
Copp claimed his death-detecting machine helped him recover 40 bodies. In fact, there is general consensus that it didn't work.
Copp's medical claim relied heavily on a report by Dr. Timothy Smith, a California anti-aging specialist.
Smith said Copp's immune system is seriously compromised in ways that affect his breathing and thinking. He said Copp's exposure to molds and toxins have caused autoimmune responses that bring on shortness of breath and swelling of the brain.
But two doctors who reviewed Copp's medical records for the Journal said they do not show Copp was seriously injured or completely disabled.
A pulmonary specialist said the records submitted to the fund show the most serious ailment Copp suffers from is a mild lung restriction. An internist said the records show Copp has mild asthma, is overweight and is clearly depressed.
'A medical miracle'
Copp is a bombastic 52-year-old Canada native with a flair for dramatic exaggeration. He frequently talks about his accolades, which he says include 650 pages of diplomatic papers and thank-you letters and hundreds of hours of video of his rescue missions.
Copp says that lately he's been on the road in his RV.
In wide-ranging phone conversations from various locations on the road, Copp has talked about his health, his heroism and how he hasn't gotten a fair shake. He often rails against Feinberg, head of the compensation fund.
"I'm a medical miracle," Copp said in a phone call from somewhere in Texas in April.
He said his doctor told him that never in history has there been anyone with this concentration of toxins in their system.
"I'm literally trying to stay alive," Copp said in the telephone interview. "I haven't had a single day that hasn't been insufferable pain."
When Copp called two weeks later from a fishing village in Canada, he said Feinberg is "a rat. He's just a plain, son-of-a-bitch rotten rat. He's not doing his job because Congress put the money there to help people like me so we wouldn't be dying in the street."
In another phone call, Copp said, "He told me I was a hero and sentenced me to death."
New Mexicans who traveled to New York with Copp on Sept. 13, 2001, said they were astonished by the claims Copp made to the compensation fund and by his award.
"My understanding of that fund was that it was for the victims and bona fide rescue people," said Eric Wade, a writer and filmmaker who had known Copp only a short time when he signed on as a member of Copp's team. "I'm mortified. I'm horrified that he even made a claim."
Mike Holley, a former North Valley regional chief of the Bernalillo County Fire Department who flew to New York with Copp, said he spent hours crawling through crevasses and saw Copp only twice at ground zero— once when they arrived and again when Copp returned to the underground subway station because his video camera battery had run out and he wanted more footage.
"I went down (underground) and I spent a lot more time than he did," Holley said. "Am I dying? I refuse to take money from the families of the victims."
John Grace, an Albuquerque videographer who also went to New York with Copp, said Copp fits neither of the categories the fund was designed to repay.
"Doug Copp," he said, "is neither a hero nor a victim."
Copp flew to New York on a corporate jet owned by the Journal Publishing Co. and piloted by publisher T.H. Lang with FAA clearance obtained by the office of Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M. Lang said he agreed to take Copp to New York because Copp came recommended as a bona fide rescuer.
He said he didn't realize until he was on the ground in New York that Copp's team consisted of a screenplay writer, a film producer, a cameraman and an adventurer. None had any rescue experience.
On the ride toward the smoldering ruin where thousands of people were still missing and presumed dead, Lang said Copp was telling gruesome tales and laughing. "It was all juvenile, unprofessional," Lang said. "I thought, 'This is bogus.' ''
'Pumped up' truth
Lentz, a state of New Mexico archaeologist who was writing a screenplay about Copp's life and came along on the trip, wrote an affidavit about Copp's work at ground zero at Copp's request.
That affidavit, signed by Lentz in his capacity with the state Office of Cultural Affairs, was part of Copp's claim to prove he was legitimately at the site and was injured. It was the only independent, firsthand evidence, besides Copp's own assertions and his video, of his work in New York.
Today, Lentz says he did not lie in the affidavit but says he "pumped up" Copp's role because he felt badly that Copp said he was ill and in debt.
"I painted a rosier picture of Doug than maybe was the truth," he said. "It is a little pumped up because I wanted to help him with his bills."
Lentz's affidavit said "... numerous casualties, including NYC firemen, rescue workers, EMTs and policemen were located as a direct result of Doug Copp's efforts and equipment."
But Lentz says today that Copp located no bodies that he knew of, although he believes Copp's equipment was used by others who found corpses.
The affidavit also said, "Several stories below ground level, we waded through water, jet fuel and effluents from ruptured sewage pipes and the Hudson River."
Lentz says today that he and others walked through that muck, but Copp was not with him. He also said he saw Copp smear soot on his face to appear he had been in more dangerous circumstances.
In terms of rescue work, Lentz said, "I gotta tell you, he didn't do anything like that."
"He never lifted a bucket," Lentz said. "He didn't do anything."
Lentz said in his affidavit that Copp slipped and fell in the subway area on Sept. 18. The September 11th fund initially refused Copp's claim based on a back injury because it would have had to occur by Sept. 15 to qualify for the fund.
Lentz said Copp asked him to change the date on the affidavit to reflect that the fall occurred earlier. Lentz said he refused and had nothing more to do with Copp.
Copp's initial claim included lung and other injuries, and his subsequent communications with the fund centered on those. Lentz said today he regrets that anything he wrote could have given the impression Copp did legitimate work at ground zero.
"I would never sign an affidavit saying he was the hero of 9/11," Lentz said. "I think basically he was a fraud and a bombast."
In earlier interviews, Lentz was more supportive of Copp and of the affidavit.
He said telling the full story now, "is kind of liberating for me because I've kept this to myself for so long."
Five-hour defense
Copp, when confronted with the accounts of his colleagues and other evidence that dispute his version of events, talked for five hours one Saturday in Albuquerque.
He was alternately angry, boastful and forlorn.
"So now is this going to come out that there's nothing wrong with me? That I'm a total fraud? That it's bogus? That I went there drinking and sitting in the hotel and wiping dirt on my face and now there's nothing really wrong with me?" Copp said.
"That would be . . . the most immoral thing I have ever heard of in all of my years of going and seeing death squads and all sorts of other things. That would be the most immoral, improper thing that I have ever heard of."
Copp provided scant evidence of what he did in New York to respond to assertions that he did nothing. But he attacked at length people who have questioned his claim. Copp said:
- Team members are lying because they are embarrassed about their own actions at ground zero or because they want to steal his body-finding machine technology.
- FEMA officials are lying about him because they are jealous of his TV time.
- The New York Fire Department is lying about him to cover up its cowardice in failing to search for victims.
- Lang is pursuing a vendetta against him because he wouldn't take Lang underground.
When he was asked by the Journal for the name of someone he worked with at ground zero who could vouch for him, Copp offered Ron Hadani, an electrical engineer from New Jersey.
When reached by phone, Hadani described the time he spent with Copp in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as strange.
Hadani, who went to New York to lend a hand, said he ran into Copp at the Jacob Javits Center and Copp took him to ground zero twice.
Hadani said the area they were exploring was dirty and dangerous, but that Copp did not appear to be looking for victims. Copp had a video camera along, Hadani said.
"I don't know if it was picture taking, but if you want my opinion it wasn't rescue," Hadani said.
Hadani said Copp took a lot of video and found no survivors or victims in their time together.
"And then when FEMA threw us out, I realized the whole thing was fake," he said.
.5 billion payout
Congress created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to avoid an anticipated onslaught of lawsuits against the airlines whose planes were hijacked and the New York Port Authority, which owned the World Trade Center.
The fund has compensated families of people who died in the four crashed airplanes, on the ground at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center as long as they agreed not to sue.
The fund also has compensated families of rescue personnel killed in the initial response and rescuers who were injured in the aftermath.
The fund, which ended its operation last month, was essentially unlimited by Congress. And Feinberg, a veteran trial lawyer, was given leeway in deciding who got paid and how much. Awards have ranged from 0 to .6 million. Feinberg said the fund will have paid out about .5 billion.
There are four tests an applicant claiming to be a rescuer must have met to be considered for compensation according to the guidelines set by Congress.
- The rescuer had to have been injured at the site within 96 hours of the planes hitting the World Trade Center buildings, or by about 9 a.m. on Sept. 15.
- The rescuer had to provide proof of physical injury.
- The rescuer had to seek medical treatment within three days of the injury (although Feinberg could make exceptions to that time restriction).
- The rescuer required hospitalization or could show the injury caused partial or total physical disability, incapacity or disfigurement.
Copp told the fund he went to New York on Sept. 12, but didn't even arrive at a New Jersey airport until the afternoon of Sept. 13. He was escorted out of the rescue coordination command center when he went there to get credentials and got to the World Trade Center site several hours later by talking a street cop into taking him in.
His lawyer, Charles K. Purcell of Albuquerque, said in a letter summarizing his claim that Copp "quickly assumed primary responsibility for exploring the subterranean areas of ground zero. Day and night Doug searched for survivors in a place where day and night were indistinguishable ‹ in underground ruins where very few others dared to go."
A videotape made by the film crew Copp brought along shows Copp looking for bodies with his casualty-locating machine and going into a ramp leading to a collapsed parking garage that first night.
The tape shows Copp asking for a dust mask and coughing twice in the underground parking area and commenting "there's a lot of dust in the air."
However, Copp said in an interview in April that the air there was clean.
The videotape also shows Copp interacting that night with a New York Police Department supervisor who instructed him several times to leave the site and check in at the command post before returning.
Copp did neither but motioned for his cameraman to follow and keep filming.
According to team members, Copp was only at the site a few hours and then returned to the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square where he was staying for free.
The site was closed for most of Sept. 14 because of President Bush's visit. Copp spent Sept. 14 making telephone calls to peddle the videotape and arranging an interview with "Inside Edition," according to Mike Miller, a film producer who accompanied Copp on the trip.
Copp also took his casualty-locating machine to the fire station on Roosevelt Island in the East River and team members attempted to demonstrate its use so they could get permission to return to ground zero, where restrictions had become tighter after the president's visit.
Grace and Wade said the machine failed in that demonstration.
By the morning of Sept. 15, when the fund's timetable for injuries ended, Copp had been underground only once, according to Lentz, and had been above ground at ground zero only for a few hours.
Wade, who was in New York with Copp during the time period that coincides with the Sept. 11 fund's requirements for rescue work, said Copp spent most of that time at the Marriott Marquis.
"He was at the hotel and uptown and whereabouts unknown," Wade said. "At the hotel 16 hours a day at least. He was at the hotel when we left and when we got back." ŒBald-faced liar'
Copp says he made two trips to the parking garage and four to the subway area, each time looking for bodies. He said the subway area was where he encountered thick smoke, dripping jet fuel and other liquid that made him sick.
Lentz said he kept a diary of the trip. He said it shows that Copp's first trip into the subway area occurred sometime around midnight on Sept. 16 ‹ which would have been outside the fund's time frame for injury.
That excursion was also videotaped and the video sold to "Inside Edition."
Copp says a message spray-painted on the entrance to the subway underground that said, "DO NOT ENTER ‹ UNSTABLE" is evidence the area had not been searched and proves he was brave enough to go where others would not.
But FDNY Chief Norman said he had gone with crews into the subway stations late on Sept. 11, made the determination that no one had been crushed or trapped and had the areas marked "cleared." Norman said the claim that Copp had authority to clear the underground is untrue.
"That's an absolute fraud," Norman said. "I was the chief in charge of the site. I didn't authorize him to do anything." Norman bristles at Copp's assertion that he searched for survivors or bodies where FDNY or FEMA wouldn't.
"I'll call him a bald-faced liar to his face," Norman said. "That site was thoroughly searched, both primary and secondary searches, before any area was marked off limits. We had people going places and doing things that I never would have permitted in any other circumstance because we had over 300 of our brothers among the thousands missing."
Lentz said Copp's purpose in going into the subway the second time on Sept. 18 was to get more videotape. TV had been stymied by media restrictions and was hungry for more images from ground zero.
Lentz videotaped Copp's second trip to the subway station and said he watched Copp smear soot on his face to appear he had been in a dangerous place.
Copp maintains he did not put soot on his face. He said Lentz must have been confusing him with someone else. When he was told Lentz was sure it was Copp who was involved, Copp said, "That is such an outrageous lie. My God, that breaks my heart to hear that."
Later in the interview Copp said, "I can tell you right now, telling me I put black on my face ‹ I'd rather someone put a bullet hole in me."
A FEMA supervisor said he confronted Copp outside the subway entrance that night and had him removed by police. Copp says FEMA did not have him removed ‹ he was leaving on his own ‹ and that they didn't want him there because he was showing them up.
"They got mad as bloody hell that we went in there, mad as bloody hell, and they came to me and they confronted me with it," Copp said.
Lentz said he stopped working with Copp after that excursion because he thought their purpose at the site should be to help, not to make money off videotapes.
"There wasn't much of an effort to do anything," Lentz said. "It was me training the camera on him. It was really posing for the camera."
The soot-smeared Copp posed for a still photograph when the team emerged from the subway that night, Lentz said.
Copp attached that photo to his cover letter to Feinberg with his claim to the fund. He pointed out, "I am the one with the Black Face."

http://www.abqjournal.com/terror/196540nm07-11-04.htm
 

Leaferne

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Feb 7, 2004
Messages
2,714
How could he have flown to New York on September 12 when every plane on the bloody continent was grounded?! (well, except for the ones whisking Saudis and bin Ladens away, of course :rolleyes: ) Or is he being metaphorical?
 

TheQuixote

Gone But Not Forgotten
(ACCOUNT RETIRED)
Joined
Sep 25, 2003
Messages
3,268
Swastika attack woman 'lied'

A French woman who alleged she had been the subject of an anti-Semitic attack invented the story, police sources say.
The alleged admission came shortly after the she was taken into custody - four days after the alleged assault on a train in the suburbs of Paris.


The 23-year-old woman said six men cut her clothes and drew swastikas on her body, accusing her of being Jewish.

The woman has been detained for falsely reporting a crime, state prosecutor Xavier Salvat told AFP news agency.

She could face up to six months in prison and a 7,500-euro (,200) fine if convicted.

The case sparked widespread condemnation amid concern that racist and anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in France.

Boyfriend 'accomplice'

The woman initially described the men as being of North African appearance, and said they tipped her 13-month-old baby from her pram.

She said about 20 people could have seen the attack but no-one has come forward.

Investigators studied footage from surveillance cameras at the train station where the six alleged attackers were supposed to have got out but found nothing.

Now unnamed police sources say she has admitted drawing the swastikas with the help of her boyfriend who is also in custody.

French media report that the young woman has filed several complaints in the past about being the victim of violence.

The reported brutality of the attack on the woman, its anti-Semitic character and the fact that no-one came to her help provoked outrage.

It also added to growing concern over racist and anti-Semitic attacks.

President Jacques Chirac, who condemned the alleged assault as "shameful", said he would deny clemency to any prisoner serving time for a racist crime.

Government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told RTL radio a rising trend of anti-Semitic attacks was "a genuine evil" in France, even if the woman's case might not be real.


BBCi News 13/07/04
 

hedgewizard1

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Leaferne said:
:confused: Now why is that ringing a bell? I'm sure I've heard of a similar case before, where someone claimed to have been attacked by assailants who wrote things on his/her body...

Two names....Tawana Brawley....Al Sharpton....Tawana (a black teen) claimed that several white guys kidnapped her, raped her, and wrote nasty things on her before dumping her. Shaprton rallied to her support, asking for money for her. Turns out she was shacked up with her boyfriend and amde up the story so she wouldn't get in trouble.
 

Leaferne

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Thanks Hedgewizard! I was afraid I was going bonkers. :) I think Law & Order used that case as the basis of an episode too.
 

Beakmoo

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Leaferne said:
Re: hypochondria--surely everyone knows people like that. They always seem to have lots of aches, pains, colds, etc.; they speak knowledgeably about diseases they probably don't have, and they just never seem to spend a productive healthy day. There is something deeply manipulative about these people. (Please note that I am NOT talking about Munchausen's!) I'm talking about the co-worker who excuses her lack of productivity by wittering on about the headaches caused by her wheat sensitivity, or the housewife who spends most of the day lying down, or...

Edited for punctuation.

Re-edited to add the following:: and are there fewer of these people in the US, where health care can be a major expense? I wonder if the hypochondriacs I've known would suddenly get better if they couldn't just waltz into the doctor's office or emergency room for free.
I'm sure you don't mean to be insulting Leaferne, I'll put the above comments down to ignorance of what is a very real and distressing condition.
Both Hubcap and I have hypochondria and it's no picnic. The people you describe are your common or garden attention seekers, not actual hypochondriacs. We don't enjoy our mental illness thank you, neither do we waltz to the doctor's at every opertunity. On the contrary, we sit up at night in a cold panic thinking we're going to die, afraid to share our fears because of the ridicule we might receive.
Thankfully for us we no longer get ridicule from our doctors, either through luck or because society is becoming more enlightened. I do tend to share my health panics on this board with my friends, because on the whole the people here are very caring and will reassure me, and when I get unrealistic, gently nudge me back to reality. I would hate anyone to think I was an attention seeker.
 

hedgewizard1

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beakboo said:
Both Hubcap and I have hypochondria and it's no picnic.

The people you describe are your common or garden attention seekers, not actual hypochondriacs. We don't enjoy our mental illness thank you,

Beak, are you getting treatment for your hypochondria?

The people L desrcibes could be hypochondriacs. It's hard to say. Some, no doubt, are malingerers and lay-abouts.

I do know some folks like L describes. Whatever the technical term for them, they ARE annoying at best. One was convinced that she'd had SARS this winter. Another is just chronically sick, although the docs can't find anything. She also fakes injuries. Really a pain, becuase she's a family member (by marriage, praise the gods). It doesn't help that she does have some real health issues as well.
 

BaronVonHoopla

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I', a bit of a hypochondriac, but not for attention. In fact I almost never bring my thoughts/fears up to anyone. If I mentioned as many things as I suspected was wrong with me to my friends they would think I'm more nuts than they already think.

I can say, for me, I never experienced any form of hypochondria until I fell in love, as cheesy as that sounds. Now I love my wife and my life in general so much that the thought of me dying early (I'm only 28) scares the hell out of me. And, being that I have no real knowledge of medicine, and only know what I feel its hard to know what is a normal ache or pain and what might be something far more serious. You read about so many stories of someone having an ear ache and going to the doctor only to find out it was a huge tumour . . . these thoughts mortify me.

So for me, the thought that I might be cheated out of a long life with my wife leads me to wonder if a sharp pain in my temple is stroke? A pain in my chest? Must be a heart attack.

Just recently I finally relented to go to the doctor because I was having such intense pain in my kidney area that I thought I must certainly have some terrible problem. The doctor asked me to show him where the pain was, and I indicated it to him. The problem ended up being my lumbar muscles, from my crappy chair at work.

So, in the end it turns out I'm not so much of a hypochondriac as I am plain old ignorant.

-Fitz with a lust for life
 

Beakmoo

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hedgewizard said:
Beak, are you getting treatment for your hypochondria?
I'm on anti depressants because I have a lifelong problem with seratonin, but i don't really think there is a treatment for hypochondria. One can address the underlying problems I suppose, but they tend to be very complex. It's just damage control. Hubcap and I are good for each other, rather unexpectedly, because we understand each others lunacy.
I just get annoyed at society mixing us up with workshy malingers and people with Munchausens. The latter of course is also an unpleasant mental condition, and I would be the last to denegrate those who suffer from it, but it's pretty much the opposite of hypochondria; it's a need to be ill, rather than a fear of illness.
Fitz, my hypochondria also got much worse when I met my husband, I know exactly where you're coming from. Part of it I think is the idea that you don't deserve to be this happy, and something is bound to snatch it away, which of course ties in with low self esteem. Do you think that's what causes yours?
Perhaps I should start a hypochondriacs (un)anonymous thread.
 

BaronVonHoopla

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Beakboo, that could be, there is a bit of latent George Costanza in me . . . Also I had a lot of medical problems when I was younger (birth-13ish), and my family tends to be illness prone, so that probably has a lot to do with it too.

My problem is that I don't really want to get rid of my hypochondria because I'm afraid something real will pop up and I will pass it off as hypochondria and then die. Crazy I know.

-Fitz
 

Beakmoo

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I think having an illness prone family, and being "sickly" oneself has a lot to do with it. One learns patterns of thought from parents, and if they're concerned with health to an abnormal degree (as my mum was) it can't help but affect one.
Do you have particular diseases that you get weird about? I do, and there's an underlying reason for all of them. Hubcap's is more general terror, and there seems to be no reason, he just decided while walking home from school one day, aged 11, that he was dying, and it's never really left him. Every headache is a potential brain tumour, although he knows logically it isn't, he can't help but panic horribly.
 

BaronVonHoopla

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I fear now that we should start a hypochondria thread, as this is getting a tad off topic, but I do have a few ailments I usually am afraid of. I don't know why though. One is that I am constantly mortified I will have a sudden apendicitus (is that how that's spelled?) and it will pop and I will die. I should have gotten it out as a child, it would have been easier on my mind. So, and little pang in my lower abdomen, is "Shit, this is it . . ."

And, like I said before I constantly worry about having a stroke for some reason. And heart attack. And my teeth poisoning me. That one I don't tell many people about. I saw something on tv about a guy who got poisoned to death by his teeth, and my teeth have always been the bane of my existence, and VOILA and new ailment was born in my mind.

I'm going to take some Thorzene now and have a rest.

-Fitz:cross eye
 
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