Hoaxes & Pranks

rynner2

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New York Mets become victims of Rick Astley online pranksters
Alexi Mostrous

As upsets go, it ranks alongside the most extraordinary results in sporting history. When the New York Mets, one of America’s most revered baseball teams, asked their fans to select a new theme song, they could never have predicted that the winner would be a has-been Lancastrian pop star.

But five million people had apparently voted on the Mets’ website for Rick Astley and his 1987 classic, Never Gonna Give You Up. Organisers were, to put it mildly, puzzled.

They had offered fans solid American choices, such as Jon Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer. Yet that had only garnered a fraction of the Astley votes.

Related Internet Links
You Got Rickrolled
It seemed that New Yorkers really wanted a song by a 42-year-old Englishman to enthuse crowds of up to 55,000 at the Mets’ Shea stadium during every game next season.

It was only when internet blogs began buzzing with reports of the Astley success that organisers realised that they had been “rickrolled”.

The Mets, it emerged, had become the latest, and most high-profile, victim of a bizarre web phenomenon aimed at ensuring that Astley’s 1980s single, made by the bubblegum pop producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman, is played as often as possible.

Minutes after the team posted the poll on their website last week, online communities such as fark.com and digg.com urged their readers to vote for Astley’s tune, which spent five weeks at the top of the UK charts in 1987. On Monday, Never Gonna Give You Up emerged as the clear winner.

But to the chagrin of internet chat-rooms, whose members claimed the will of the people was being ignored, the team refused to abide by the vote.

Astley would not be blared out at every game during the final season, embarrassed officials said. Instead there would be a “run-off” where the top six songs, including Astley’s, would be played on consecutive days.

The one drawing the loudest crowd response – judged by the club’s marketing department – would win.

A source inside the club, who did not want to be named, told The Times: “That damn song was an April Fool’s joke. The fans didn’t choose it. We were hijacked.”

He added: “This is the way we’re going to do it now. And let me tell you, the Astley tune is not going to win.”

The phenomenon of “rickrolling” can be traced back to last year, when thousands of internet users began putting up links to popular websites which actually took audiences straight to the video of Astley’s pop anthem.

So far, more than 13 million people have been tricked into watching Astley, propelling the singer to heights of celebrity he surely thought had passed him by. Riding the wave, his record company are now releasing a greatest hits collection amid talk of a UK tour.

The Mets rickroll is only the latest in a number of high-profile Astley jokes. Anti-Scientology protesters in London and New York adopted the song in February, playing it through boomboxes in what was described as “a live rickrolling of the Church of Scientology”. Later, when Scientologists created a website to counter allegations, rickrollers set up a site with a similar domain name that took users directly to Astley’s video.

The joke has spawned countless parodies. Hillary Clinton stars in a rickroll video, as do the Muppets. On April Fool’s Day countless websites rickrolled their viewers. YouTube, the most popular video site, hyperlinked all their front-page videos to the song.

Marketing companies are beginning to realise the potential. One is organising a gathering of hundreds of Astley fans at Liverpool Street station on Friday to sing a group version of Never Gonna Give You Up.

Astley said last month that he thought the fame was “a bit spooky”. “It’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it,” he said. “But that’s what’s brilliant about the internet.”

On Tuesday, the sounds of Never Gonna Give You Up played around the Mets’ stadium, to the delight of the millions in on the joke. Even if it won’t be played again, they knew that one of the world’s biggest clubs had just been rickrolled during the middle of the eighth inning.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/ ... 716602.ece
 

Abendstern

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There's been a related trend to rickrolling on facebook of late. People have joined groups where they organize mass 'pokes' (where you get a message stating you have been poked on your homepage) on random individuals, and even post strange pictures in popular FB groups....one of them is called PMA (power to mess around). I suppose it livens up people constantly asking if I want to be a zombie......
 

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By bookstores, they mean independents. Megabookstores have a lot more money to scam people out of, but if you called them, you'd get somebody who isn't aware that there's a signing scheduled, doesn't know who's in charge, and wouldn't recognize the name of any author except Rowling, King, or Steele.
Hoaxes hit bookstores
It starts with a phone call from someone claiming to be an author. Then the caller asks for money. But sellers are catching on.
By Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 29, 2008
It's not quite an epidemic, not yet a rash. But a recent outbreak of hoaxes on local bookstores has staffers a little, at least, annoyed.

"They're like con men," said Skylight Books manager Kerry Slattery. "They draw you in, and later you just feel so foolish."

"It's sort of creative," conceded John Evans of Diesel, a Bookstore, which has shops in Malibu and Oakland; to Allison Reid, his partner, "It keeps life interesting."

With the explosion of computer viruses, identity theft and Nigerian e-mail scams over the last few years, it may have been inevitable that bookstores got a part of the action. And slowly but surely, stores are being contacted by people claiming to be someone they're not and trying to persuade the bookstore staff to send them money. It's bewildering to a community that operates largely on trust and personal relationships.

"It's an annoyance," said Jennifer Ramos, who handles the more than 300 author events a year at Pasadena's Vroman's Books. "It was funny at first, but it seems wrong now."

This tale is typical: Slattery was heading out of the store, not long ago, to see a movie down the street when a staffer handed her the phone. The caller addressed her like an old friend: "Oh -- thank God I got you before you left," he began.

The call came from someone who said he was the Los Angeles blogger and first novelist Mark Sarvas, who was reading at the store in a few days and seemed to be in a pinch. His car had been impounded, he needed money to get it back and he needed it right away.

"I thought, 'Why isn't he calling his wife?' " recalled Slattery. "But maybe he can't reach anybody, maybe he had an extra drink. . . . It never occurred to me that it wasn't him.

"So even though I think it's a little weird that he's asking me to help him get his car out of impound, I'm also thinking, 'Well, it's Saturday night, maybe he couldn't reach anybody, and you know, I'm going to see him on Tuesday. . . .' And he didn't say anything about money for a really long time."

It was only when she was about to wire the money via Western Union, and having to give a password one too many times, that she began to have second thoughts. "I realized, 'Oh, my God, I almost sent $200. . . .' The guy was good."



Then the author arrived

A similar trap almost caught Diesel's Evans, who was holding an annual summit of cookbook authors at his store in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood. A few hours before the event, someone who said he was Eric Gower, author of "The Breakaway Cook," called.

"If it was Eric Gower," said Evans, "it was a highly altered Eric Gower. He was calling to say, 'I can't be there; my car was stolen. I left my keys in my car with my computer, and when I came back from getting something to open it with, there was nothing but broken glass. And the computer had all the pictures I have of my mother."

Evans' first response: That's awful.

But the caller was inconsolable: "Then he very quickly changed gears to, 'So I need you to send $150 by Western Union, and I can give you all of the information.' He sounded freaked out, maybe he's high strung -- you know how chefs can be."

So as the bookseller considered the details, he realized they didn't add up. "Now I'm just thinking, 'Boy, this is too freaky.' His thing was, 'If you give me $150 today, I'll give you $400 tomorrow -- for a hamburger today.' Basically Eric Gower was dropping in estimation in my mind."

That is, until the real Eric Gower showed up a few hours later. "And he was freaked out by the story I told him."

For the real Breakaway Cook, it was comforting to find out he was not the only one. "The multiplication of these stories took the heat off of him," Evans said. At first, "it creeped him out; it made him nervous that it was personal."



Not a new thing

These are not isolated incidents.

"This kind of crime is happening across the board. Individuals are targeted as well as businesses," said Janet Pope Givens, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Police Department. "So many times people don't report them, especially if they haven't been a victim, so it's hard to say if it's increasing or not. We give businesses the same advice we give any individual: Your heart may go out, and they may be very convincing. But you don't give any money to anyone you don't know."

"It's not new, unfortunately," said Jennifer Bigelow, executive director of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Assn., who these days is hearing mostly about hoaxes involving bulk orders of textbooks on stolen or bogus credit cards.

The American Booksellers Assn. has recorded few author scams outside California.

But on the West Coast, author hoaxes have not gone away. In some cases, repetition has led booksellers to catch on. Evans has noticed how often "pictures of my mother" segues into a plea for cash.

After getting a second call, in just a few days, from a writer needing money -- this one purportedly from English writer Nick Hornby -- Book Soup's Tosh Berman didn't hesitate to cut him off. "Almost exactly from the script he said, 'I'm embarrassed to be calling you like this, but I'm at the airport. . . .'

"He really managed the accent," Berman said of the Hornby impersonator. "I almost fell for it. But I didn't take that trip."

Berman speculated that this gang has several members -- one black man, one English guy, one woman -- to make impersonation easier. "It's like the Mod Squad or something."

Vroman's has hung up on someone claiming to be Ray Bradbury and, in late February, Ramos said, Russell Banks.

One of the most unusual incidents took place at Skylight a few years back: Someone called claiming to be the assistant to outspoken liberal commentator Eric Alterman, whose upcoming store appearance was going to be filmed by C-SPAN.

"This is his assistant," Slattery remembers the caller saying. "He's not able to talk, he has terrible bronchitis, he's not going to be able to be there tonight, and he feels terrible about it. We'll try and see if we can reschedule."

It was only when the manager called around -- starting with C-SPAN -- that she realized there was no reason to cancel the camera crews.

"It wasn't about money," Slattery speculated. "It was probably somebody who didn't like his politics" trying to sabotage his event.



Why booksellers?

"When you tell people the story," said Diesel's Reid, "they don't believe you didn't realize it's a hustle immediately."

When Bigelow hears of a new scam, she sends out e-mails warning booksellers; she compares the process to warning friends of computer viruses. "Most of my booksellers have become pretty savvy."

But as with computer viruses -- or a virus in the human body -- hoaxes mutate and evolve no matter what kind of opposition they encounter.

Could these hoaxes be aimed at bookstores out of a sense that they're run by kind and perhaps gullible people?

"We all think that we're smart about things," said the maternal Slattery, who describes herself as "cynical about a lot of stuff."

Still: "There is this sense that bookstores have this special relationship with authors, that they help them out. And if it had really been Mark Sarvas I definitely would have done it."
http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-bookhoax29apr29,0,6278039,full.story
 

rynner2

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Revealed after 50 years: The secret of the greatest-ever student prank
By Laura Clark
Last updated at 11:37 PM on 27th June 2008

It was probably the most ingenious student prank of all time.
In June 1958, Cambridge awoke to see a car perched at the apex of an inaccessible rooftop, looking as if it were driving across the skyline.

The spectacle made headlines around the world and left police, firefighters and civil defence units battling for nearly a week to hoist the vehicle back down before giving in and taking it to pieces with blowtorches.

The shadowy group of engineering students who executed the stunt were never identified and the mystery of how they did it has baffled successive undergraduates and provided fodder for countless tourist guides.

Now, 50 years on, the group have reunited to disclose their identities and reveal how they winched an Austin Seven to the top of the university's 70ft-high Senate House.

At an anniversary dinner this month, ringleader Peter Davey revealed he had hatched the plan while staying in rooms at Gonville and Caius College overlooking the Senate House roof.

He felt the expanse of roof 'cried out' to be made more interesting and decided a car would do the trick, recruiting 11 others to help realise his plan.

The group chose the May Bumps week, when any passers-by were likely to be drunken rowers celebrating after their races.

After finding a clapped-out Austin Seven, the group had to tow it through Cambridge to a parking space near Senate House but hit on the idea of sticking signs on it advertising a May ball to explain its presence.

Mr Davey, now 72, said a ground party manoeuvred the car into position while a lifting party on the Senate House roof hoisted it up using an A-shaped crane constructed from scaffolding poles and steel rope.

A third group, the bridge party, passed a plank across the notorious Senate House Leap - an 8ft gap between the roof and a turret window at Caius - and helped the lifters ferry across lifting gear comprising three types of rope, hooks and pulleys.

Policemen who heard a commotion as the equipment passed above them questioned some of the ground party but were distracted by careless drivers nearby and left them alone.

Three carousing rowers spotted the car swinging about 40ft up, despite the efforts of two girls on the ground team who had been recruited to hitch up their skirts a couple of inches to distract passers-by - a ploy more likely to work in 1958 than now. :D The rowers were fobbed off with the explanation that it was a tethered balloon.

The stunt almost went awry when the team tried to swing the car through the apex of the A-frame, over the Senate House balustrade and on to the roof.

They had failed to erect a rope check line running from the Caius side which would have steadied the vehicle. It crashed on to the roof from 5ft above it and, fearing they would be discovered, the lifting team hastily pushed it to the apex before grabbing their equipment and fleeing over the plank bridge.

The next day the bizarre sight enthralled crowds of onlookers as attempts by the authorities to construct a crane to hoist it back down failed.

The then Dean of Caius, the late Rev Hugh Montefiore, had an inkling who was responsible and sent a congratulatory case of champagne to their staircase, while maintaining in public he knew nothing of the culprits. 8) Unsurprisingly given their inventiveness, many of the group went on to enjoy illustrious careers - and Caius officials said the ' renegades' had turned into generous benefactors of the college.

Mr Davey, from Mousehole, Cornwall, was awarded a CBE and an honorary doctorate after setting up automation and robotics companies while another, Cyril Pritchett, was a lieutenant colonel in the Army.

Two of the team of 12 live abroad and could not make the reunion dinner at Caius.

One, David Fowler, had died and was represented by his widow Denise.

The reunited pranksters said their only regret was that the car was not left in place for ever.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... prank.html

(Pics and diagram on page)
 

rynner2

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Chinese officials fake pictures of rare tiger
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 30/06/2008

China has sacked government officials over a set of fake photographs that local authorities claimed were proof that a highly-endangered tiger was alive and well.

In October, forestry officials in Zhenping county, in northern Shaanxi province, published photos of a tiger in a forest setting, saying they were proof of the existence of the South China tiger.

A local farmer who produced the photos was paid a 20,000 yuan ($1,450) reward.

Now, officials have admitted the photos were faked, according to Xinhua, the state media agency.

The Shaanxi province government has announced that 13 local officials, including Zhu Julong, the deputy head of the province's forestry bureau, and Wang Wanyun, its top wildlife official, have been sacked.

Zhou Zhenglong, the farmer who claimed to have taken the photo using a digital camera, was arrested on suspicion of fraud, Xinhua said.

The scam was uncovered after police seized a picture of a tiger which Mr Zhou borrowed from a farmer in another village.

The picture was then used to mock-up the photos which purported to prove the tiger was alive.

The forestry officials were apparently seeking to set up a South China tiger natural reserve and the photos were being used as a springboard for their conservation campaign.

But doubts about the photos surfaced immediately after they appeared in the state press last year.

The last wild South China tiger sighting was recorded in 1964 and while 20 to 30 of the tigers were believed to remain in the wild, none had been spotted in decades.

The South China tiger, whose traditional range is southern and central China, is one of six remaining tiger subspecies.

Three other subspecies, the Bali, Java, and Caspian tigers, have all become extinct since the 1940s, according to the US-based Save The Tiger Fund.

China has been rocked by a number of major scandals involving official endorsement of photos of rare wildlife in recent years.

In February, the chief editor of a Chinese newspaper quit after one its photographers faked a prize-winning photo of endangered Tibetan antelopes, apparently unfazed by a passing train on the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.j ... ger130.xml
 

rynner2

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Eriksson lookalike fools Mexico

An English comedian has allegedly tricked a Mexican football club into thinking he was the national team's new coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The Mexican football federation has warned clubs to be on their guard after Derek Williams was given a tour of Club Universidad Nacional's stadium.

He reportedly sent the first division team falsified documents which appeared to have come from the federation.

The federation later released a statement saying that he was a double.

"At the moment the real Eriksson is in the United States. The person claiming to be him is only a lookalike. This shows a complete lack of respect," the statement said.

'Amused'

Derek Williams reportedly spoke to Universidad Nacional's coach, Ricardo Ferretti, saying that he had come to watch some of his players ahead of his first squad selection.

"To be honest I was quite amused," Mr Ferretti said. "The fake Eriksson told me that he was watching my players ahead of his next call-ups, and I believed him."

The Eriksson lookalike was given a tour around the field, accompanied by two glamorous women, and then allegedly issued a statement to unsuspecting journalists and posed for photographs.

Sven-Goran Eriksson was appointed Mexico's new coach in June after being sacked as manager of England's Manchester City club.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7512387.stm
 

rynner2

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Beijing Olympics: Faking scandal over girl who 'sang' in opening ceremony
Chinese officials have admitted deceiving the public over another highlight of the Olympic opening ceremony: the picture-perfect schoolgirl who sang as the Chinese flag entered the stadium was performing to another girl's voice.
By Richard Spencer in Beijing
Last Updated: 8:29PM BST 12 Aug 2008

The girl in the red dress with the pigtails, called Lin Miaoke, 9, and from a Beijing primary school, has become a national sensation since Friday night, giving interviews to all the most popular newspapers.

But the show's musical designer felt forced to set the record straight. He gave an interview to Beijing radio saying the real singer was a seven-year-old girl who had won a gruelling competition to perform the anthem, a patriotic song called "Hymn to the Motherland".

At the last moment a member of the Chinese politburo who was watching a rehearsal pronounced that the winner, a girl called Yang Peiyi, might have a perfect voice but was unsuited to the lead role because of her buck teeth.

So, on the night, while a pre-recording of Yang Peiyi singing was played, Lin Miaoke, who has already featured in television advertisements, was seen but not heard.

"This was a last-minute question, a choice we had to make," the ceremony's musical designer, Chen Qigang, said. "Our rehearsals had already been vetted several times - they were all very strict. When we had the dress rehearsals, there were spectators from various divisions, including above all a member of the politburo who gave us his verdict: we had to make the swap."

Mr Chen's interview gave an extraordinary insight into the control exercised over the ceremony by the Games' political overseers, all to ensure the country was seen at its best.

Officials have already admitted that the pictures of giant firework footprints which marched across Beijing towards the stadium on Friday night were prerecorded, digitally enhanced and inserted into footage beamed across the world. :shock:

Mr Chen said the initial hopefuls to sing the anthem had been reduced to ten, and one, a ten-year-old, had originally been chosen for the quality of her voice. But she, too, had fallen by the wayside because she was not "cute" enough.

"We used her to sing in all the rehearsals," Mr Chen said. "But in the end the director thought her image was not the most appropriate, because she was a little too old. Regrettably, we had to let her go."

At that point Yang Peiyi stepped up to the plate.

"The main consideration was the national interest," he said. "The child on the screen should be flawless in image, in her internal feelings, and in her expression. In the matter of her voice, Yang Peiyi was flawless, in the unanimous opinion of all the members of the team."

That was until attention turned to Yang Peiyi's teeth. Nevertheless, Mr Chen thought the end result a perfect compromise.

"We have a responsibility to face the audience of the whole country, and to be open with this explanation," he said. "We should all understand it like this: it is a question of the national interest. It is a question of the image of our national music, our national culture.

"Especially at the entrance of our national flag, this is an extremely important, an extremely serious matter.

"So we made the choice. I think it is fair to both Lin Miaoke and Yang Peiyi - after all, we have a perfect voice, a perfect image and a perfect show, in our team's view, all together."

One question remains: why was Lin Miaoke allowed to give interviews in which she lapped up the praise for her singing. Mr Chen said she might not have known that the words she was singing could not be heard. She had, in fact, only known she was going to perform at all 15 minutes beforehand.

Yang Peiyi is said to have reacted well to the disappointment. "I am proud to have been chosen to sing at all," she is reported to have said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/others ... emony.html

If I'd won a gold medal or three there, I'd get 'em checked to see if they're real gold! 8)
 

PeniG

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Sounds to me like little children in China are being brought up to lie and not to know the difference.

That sort of thing happens here, too, all the time; and people lie about it.

This preference for the perfect image over the imperfect truth - perfect being defined by some arbitrary set of standards that doesn't exist in nature - causes untold amounts of misery in the world. It makes being "good enough" impossible, and rewards those who are willing to cheat over those who want to do their best and reap only those rewards they've earned. Today, a faked image on a video and a bit of lip-synching; tomorrow, a faked image on a quality review and thousands of people dead due to a bad weld.
 

Ginando

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THIS IS A BIT GROSS, BE WARNED

Back in the day when I was an engineer in the Merchant navy, one of my duties when I was 4th engineer was the maintenance of the sewage treatment plant. On a regular basis I had to carry out an inspection and replace various filters etc. The primary screen of the plant was a large metal plate drilled with holes. The holes were just the right size to trap items such as socks (yes people used to flush them), red nosed lady mice (figure it out) and sweetcorn.

On one occasion I had a new cadet whom I was assisting with his training. It was the day that the sewage plant needed a clean out, I felt a jolly little jape coming on. As usual there was a significant amount of sweetcorn in the primary screen, so I carefully collected it and placed in a can which I had handy. We carried on with the inspection and then boxed up the various tanks and filters.

At this point I asked young Nigel to take the can of sweetcorn up to the galley and give it to our Chief Cook. 'What for?' he asked, I told him it was to be reused. The lad wasn't keen and laughed, but I put on my sternest face and told him to get his backside up to the galley with the sweetcorn. As he made his way up, a quick call to the Chief Cook was made and the plot explained. Nigel duly appeared at the galley and presented the corn. The cook immediately poured it into a pan and placed it on the range.

The hoax was completed when the cook duly put sweetcorn on the menu. Poor Nigel sat down beside me for our dinner and was seen last seen dry retching his way out of dining room as a serving plate of sweet corn was placed on our table.

Poor lad probably hasn't touched an ear of corn to this day.
 

wendytorrance

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*wanders off, wondering what the heck a red nosed lady mouse is...* :roll:
 

rynner2

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wendytorrance said:
*wanders off, wondering what the heck a red nosed lady mouse is...* :roll:
Er, could one of you other girls take Wendy quietly aside and explain, please? :oops:
 

wendytorrance

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Thank you CelticRose for doing the deed. I have come across those mice before -I didn't realise it was an actual species.
 

celticrose

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They are carnivores that inhabit drains, bathrooms and handbags. Varying in size from an inch to well over three, and mainly albino. Their long stingy tails are the tell tale sign you have an infestation, which can generally be cured by a hysterectomy.
 

rynner2

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Hrm, exactly...

Now you can imagine that such items do not crop up in my daily conversation very much, and I don't think I've ever had to allude to them on this MB before...

Nor do they crop up in literature all that often, but this afternoon, within the last hour, I read in a novel of a man who badly injured his hand on a sharp twig. His lady companion rapidily created a wound dressing from the contents of her handbag! :shock:
 

rynner2

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Another Olympics story...

Hacker uncovers 'proof' that Chinese gymnast is underage
Jane Macartney in Beijing

A determined computer expert has delved into cached pages on the Internet to unearth Chinese official documents showing a gymnast who took gold, edging Britain’s Beth Tweddle into fourth place, may indeed be underage.

Controversy over whether He Kexin, gold medallist in the uneven bars, is under the minimum age of 16 has surrounded her participation in the Beijing Olympics. The latest challenge over the age of the tiny Olympian comes from the discovery through a cyberspace maze of Chinese official documents listing her date of birth.

She certainly does not look as if she has reached the minimum competing age of 16. However China says her passport, issued in February, gives her birthday on January 1, 1992, and the International Olympic Committee has said proof from her passport is good enough.

If incontrovertible evidence that Ms He is underage were to come to light, Britain’s Beth Tweddle, from Cheshire, could edge up from fourth place to bronze medal position in the uneven bars. With the end of the Games just three days away, that now seems unlikely.

The latest unofficial investigation was carried out by 'Stryde', a computer security expert for the New York-based Intrepidus Group, whose site Stryde Hax revealed a detailed forensic search for Ms He’s age.

The blogger first simply tried Google, only to find that an official listing by the Chinese sports administration that had given her age could no longer be accessed. Next he tried the Google cache, only to find that Ms He’s name had been removed.

So then he tried the cache of Chinese search engine Baidu. There, he found that Baidu lists two spreadsheets in Ms He's name, both giving her date of birth as January 1, 1994 – making her 14 years and 220 days old and too young to compete at these Olympics.

The lists were compiled by the General Administration of Sport of China.

Even before anyone arrived in Beijing, American media investigations had accused China of fielding three athletes below the 16-year-old minimum age threshold. Bela Karolyi, the former US head coach, then reheated the issue by claiming that China “are using half-people” and that their flouting of the regulations was so obvious that “these people think we are stupid”.

Nastia Liukin of the US finished second behind He Kexin in the uneven bars final and would be elevated to the gold medal position should the Chinese gymnast be disqualified.

Ms He insists that she is of age. Asked by journalists about the debate, she said: “My real age is 16. I don’t care what other people say. I want other people to know that 16 is my real age.” Asked how she spent her 15th birthday, she paused and then said: “I was with my team. It was an ordinary day.”

Just nine months before the Olympics, the Chinese government’s Xinhua news agency gave Ms He’s name as 13. Officials have since dismissed that report saying Xinhua had never been given her age and had made a mistake.

Stryde, who was later named by the technology news site Information Week as Mike Walker, concludes: “Much of the coverage regarding Kexin’s age has only mentioned ‘allegations’ of fraud, and the IOC has ignored thematter completely. I believe that these primary documents, issued by the Chinese state … rise to a level of evidence higher than ‘allegation’.

It could certainly make a difference to Britain's Tweddle, who at 23 and relatively old for a gymnast may not be able to compete in London 2012.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/ ... 578241.ece
 

rynner2

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And now...

Olympics probe into China's 'underage' teenage gymnast
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:28 PM on 22nd August 2008

The International Olympic Committee has ordered an investigation into allegations Chinese authorities falsified the age of a double gold medal winning gymnast because she was too young to compete.

China's He Kexin, who won team gold in artistic gymnastics and an individual title on the asymmetric bars, was registered as being born on January 1, 1992.

There have been persistent media allegations that He had competed in earlier tournaments under a later birth date, and on Thursday an American computer expert said he had uncovered Chinese state documents that proved she was 14 and not 16.

The caption on a photograph published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua last year referred to '13-year-old He Kexin', while China Daily reported in May that she was 14.

Britain's Beth Tweddle finished fourth in the uneven bars behind He Kexin and bronze medallist Yang Yilin.

An IOC official said the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) had been asked to look into 'discrepancies' over He's age, but others stressed she had already been cleared to compete.

'Everything that has been received so far shows we have no problem of eligibility for these competitors,' said the IOC's sports director Christophe Dubi, adding FIG had asked the Chinese national gymnastics federation to investigate.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies added the organisation wanted to clear up the matter 100 percent 'and put it to rest'.

Gymnasts must turn 16 in the year of the Games to take part, a rule introduced in 1997 to protect their wellbeing, and China's gymnastics coach told a news conference all the team 'were in total compliance with the age requirement'.

'Since Asian bodies are not the same as Westerners', there have been questions, but there shouldn't be,' Chinese head coach Huang Yubin said.

China has invested billions in selecting and training its athletes from a young age, an effort rewarded by top spot in the medals table, with 46 golds.

This has been seen as a sign China has the sporting prowess to match its rising superpower status.

There has been criticism of the system even from within China, though, with one former Olympic medallist saying many children who fail to make the grade are left without sufficient education or social skills.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldne ... mnast.html
 

rynner2

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A collection of hoaxed photos here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/connected/ma ... xes104.xml

Some familiar, some not:

1) Shark lunges at helicopter

2) World Trade Centre tourist

3) Iranian missile test

4) Ann Widdecombe's mixed messages

5) Chairman Mao airbrushes out his former friends

6) Snowball the monster cat

7) Smoke over Beirut

8 ) Antelopes and trains in harmony

9) Tsunami captured from tower block

10) Bush reading upside down

11) Shark sneaks up on scuba divers

12) John Kerry with Jane Fonda

13) Giant skeletons discovered in India

14) Benito Mussolini, the fearless horseman

15) Karl Rove's 'secret file'

16) James Purnell doctored at hospital

17) Soldier doll held hostage in Iraq

18 ) Fidel Castro made to look like Hitler

19) Oil rig, tornado and lightning strike

20) Cottingley Fairies
 

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Very long article here - begins:

The fantasist of 9/11: The story of Tania Head's escape from the Twin Towers captivated America and made her a heroine among survivors... Just one problem - she wasn't even there that day
By Adrian Gatton
Last updated at 7:54 AM on 12th September 2008

During the years following the 9/11 attacks, many stories emerged of triumph, tragedy and heroism. But one story stood out. Tania Head was one of only 19 people to survive above the point of impact in the South Tower at the World Trade Centre.

Her story was triumphant and tragic. She was a survivor who, despite horrific burns, had escaped the falling towers, but she was a victim, too, in that she lost her fiance, Dave, when the North Tower collapsed.

As Tania Head became president of the self-help group, the World Trade Centre Survivors' Network, her vivid account of miraculous escape and tragic loss convinced everyone - politicians, media, fellow survivors and the families of those who died in the attacks.

But Tania wasn't who she said she was. And on the day of the attacks she wasn't even in New York; she was thousands of miles away in Spain, sitting down to lectures at a business school in Barcelona, where she was completing a masters in business administration at one of Europe's most prestigious - and expensive - business schools.

Her fellow students went on to work in industry, but in 2003, Tania Head, a member of one of Barcelona's richest families, flew to New York to adopt her carefully studied persona as a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

But why did she do it? To get the answers I had to search across the U.S., Spain and even Switzerland for clues.

.......

ADRIAN GATTON was the producer on Cutting Edge: The 9/11 Faker, shown on Channel 4.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic ... t-day.html
 

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‘Ancient’ Christian amulet exposed as modern hoax
Simon de Bruxelles

A silver cross regarded as one of the most important early Christian artefacts found in Britain is a modern fake, scientists confirmed yesterday.

The Chi-Rho Amulet, which bears an early Christian symbol incorporating the first two letters of Christ’s name in Greek, was found in a 4th-century Roman grave near the Somerset town of Shepton Mallet in 1990.

Tests carried out by Dr Matthew Ponting, from the University of Liver-pool, revealed that the silver used to make the cross is of 19th-century origin. The test, using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), examined impurities in the metal. It also established that silver used to make the cross and the pierced disc that bears the Chi-Rho inscription comes from two sources.

Suspicion is focusing on protesters who opposed construction of a vast drinks warehouse on the site beside the Fosse Way, an Ancient Roman road. The discovery of the amulet 18 years ago caused a sensation in Shepton Mallet. An entertainment complex and a street were named after it and a replica was presented to George Carey (now Lord Carey of Clifton), who wore it at his enthronement as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1991.

Jeanette Marsh, deputy leader of the town council, said: “It’s like the magic has been removed from Shepton Mallet. I’m not sure there’ll be any need to change any names in the town but it’s a shame the myth of the amulet has now burst.

“It was part of the town’s claim to fame, though the revelation that it’s a fake won’t come as a surprise to many people. When the amulet was first discovered it was felt it may have been placed there as a joke. But we’re still proud of Shepton and its Roman heritage.”

Stephen Minnitt, acting head of the Somerset museum service, said: “Following detailed analysis of the Shepton Mallet amulet Somerset County Council can confirm that the artefact is almost certainly not the rare Christian artefact it was first believed to be. Experts are now 99 per cent certain the amulet is not genuine.”

He appealed for the faker to come forward to solve the mystery. “It was deliberately planted. It didn’t get there by accident. There was a lot of local concern over the fact that the site was being destroyed and there was quite a lot of local opposition.”

He said the hoaxer would not be punished. “There is no threat to them. They haven’t committed a crime or anything. It would be good to bring the story to a conclusion. We would be delighted if someone came forward and told us why and what happened.”

The amulet is believed to have been copied from a genuine but little-known Roman brooch presented to the British Museum in 1954, implying a degree of specialist knowledge.

The amulet was found in the grave of a man in one of 16 burial plots in the Roman cemetery. Peter Leach, who led the Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit that carried out the excavation, said that he did not suspect any of his 40-strong team of planting the amulet.

“There is absolutely no question it was anybody to do with the archaeological team,” he said. “I was there when it was found. There was never any doubt about its provenance as it was in a genuine Roman burial.“A local group might have had an agenda to place an object there in the hope that an archaeological find would stop the development.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 783042.ece
 

celticrose

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If the silver is of 19th century origin, then it could be up to 200 years old, whos to say it was a modern hoaxer?
 

rynner2

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celticrose said:
If the silver is of 19th century origin, then it could be up to 200 years old, whos to say it was a modern hoaxer?
I guess most hoaxers have some kind of aim in mind, and there wouldn't be much satisfaction in perpetrating a hoax that wasn't even discovered until after you're dead!

Whereas at the time of discovery there was local agitation about the 'construction of a vast drinks warehouse on the site beside the Fosse Way', and the hoax could have been intended to prevent the works going ahead. (Anyone know if they did?)
 

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If the cross is a replica of the British Museum cross, it may have been made legitimately as a reproduction for the same kinds of people who wear faux-antique jewelry today. We periodically get a catalog full of "museum replicas," which would allow us to display all kinds of cool things, from "fossil" dinosaur bones to "renaissance" weapons. A reproduction Roman cross would be right up a certain kind of Victorian's alley.

It would only become a hoax when placed in the grave in a context that would deceive people into thinking it authentic.
 

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Christian amulet that ruined my life is not a hoax
Andrew Norfolk

The archaeologist who discovered a silver cross exposed by scientists last week as a Roman “hoax” says he is convinced that the find is genuine.

Quentin Hutchinson has remained silent since he found the early Christian Chi-Rho amulet while excavating a 4th-century grave near the Somerset town of Shepton Mallet in 1990.

It was initially regarded as the earliest evidence of a Christian burial in Britain and was hailed as one of the archaeological finds of the century. But after tests by experts at Liverpool University, which concluded that the silver was of 19th-century origin, it has now emerged that doubts about its authenticity were voiced almost from the moment it was found.

Mr Hutchinson, 46, has never before spoken publicly about his discovery of the tiny cross on Sunday, July 15, 1990. But now he says that it has ruined his life and he wishes that he had never found it.

His integrity was called into question soon after the find, and the suspicion that he had planted the cross himself ended his professional career.

He denies playing any part in a hoax and maintains that it would have been impossible for anyone to plant the amulet without disturbing the soil. In the absence of such evidence, he is convinced that the cross could only have come to be underneath the right femur of the skeleton of a middle-aged man, possibly a priest, if it had been buried with its owner more than 1,600 years ago. He believes that the experts must reconsider because the find may yet prove to be of great importance.

In the summer of 1990, Mr Hutchinson, then 28, had been an archaeologist for four years and was a member of Birmingham University’s Field Archeology Unit. It had been asked to conduct a dig at the site of a proposed £6 million warehouse development. What they uncovered, beside the Fosse Way was evidence of a large Romano-British settlement, with roadside buildings, workshops, agricultural enclosures and industrial workings.

There were also three 4th-century cemeteries, one of which – where the graves lay east to west – was thought to be Christian. Mr Hutchinson was asked to complete the excavation of one grave, which had been left by a colleague with the upper half of the skeleton uncovered but the lower half still hidden beneath compacted soil.

“I began lowering the grave fill. You can always tell, from subtle differences in colour and texture, if there has been a disturbance. In this case, the soil was very clean, very compact. It did not look to have been disturbed in any way. The site director [Peter Leach] had already looked at it with me. There was absolutely nothing to suggest that it had been tampered with.”

When Mr Hutchinson reached the upper right leg bone, he noticed a fleck of black and a bead, embedded in the soil next to the bone. He gently removed a fist-sized clod of earth surrounding the object and lifted it out.He found himself holding a small silver cross, 45mm long, and 39mm wide. The bead had been the tip of one of its four points. Heart racing, he hurried to Mr Leach, who wiped the remaining soil from the small disc at its centre.

This revealed the Chi-Rho marking, an early Christian symbol formed by superimposing the first two letters, X and P, of the Greek word Christos, “the anointed one”. He said: “I thought, ‘Oh my God, what have I found?’ It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Peter Leach said that nothing like it had ever been found in Britain. It was incredibly exciting.”

Within days, word spread of the amazing find and Shepton Mallet seemed destined for fame as one of Britain’s earliest centres of Christian belief. Mr Hutchinson left Britain on a short holiday two months later. When he came back, his world fell apart.

“My director called me into his officeand told me that he had been asked by the British Museum to question my professional conduct because they were convinced that the amulet was a modern hoax.”

Mr Hutchinson was asked if he had planted it. He angrily denied the accusation. The find remained, officially, genuine until last week’s tests but passion for archaeology – and trust in Britain’s archaeological establishment – left its finder many years ago.

Shattered by the suspicions surrounding him, he resigned from the Birmingham team in 1991 and left the profession in 2000. He has subsequently worked as a teacher, in a post office and in a supermarket. He now wants a gathering of experts to thrash out the controversy.

“I’m not an expert on Roman silver, so in that sense I can’t say whether the amulet is genuine, but what I do know is that it came out of an untouched grave. My suspicion is that the real problem is that the amulet is unique.

“Because it doesn’t fit their understanding of the period, they are determined to believe that it cannot be genuine. The truth is I wish I’d never found it, because it ruined my life.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 799762.ece
 

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rynner said:
New York Mets become victims of Rick Astley online pranksters
Alexi Mostrous

As upsets go, it ranks alongside the most extraordinary results in sporting history. When the New York Mets, one of America’s most revered baseball teams, asked their fans to select a new theme song, they could never have predicted that the winner would be a has-been Lancastrian pop star.

But five million people had apparently voted on the Mets’ website for Rick Astley and his 1987 classic, Never Gonna Give You Up. Organisers were, to put it mildly, puzzled.

They had offered fans solid American choices, such as Jon Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer. Yet that had only garnered a fraction of the Astley votes.
.....
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/ ... 716602.ece
and now..

Astley shortlisted for MTV award

Eighties pop singer Rick Astley has become the surprise contender for best act ever at this year's MTV Europe Music Awards in Liverpool.

The star, who has never been nominated in the history of the event, is up against U2, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Green Day and Tokio Hotel.

The winner, chosen by fans online, will be unveiled at the show on 6 November.

Astley returned to prominence this year when internet users were "tricked" into watching the video of his biggest hit.

Sole nomination

A craze called "Rickrolling" saw web users unwittingly follow links to Astley's videos. It led to millions of plays of Astley's song Never Gonna Give You Up, which reached number one in the UK in 1987.

It went on to become a number one hit in 15 other countries.

"Rick's fans have obviously decided that he deserves recognition as a pop icon and no doubt they are determined to make sure he wins on the night," said the award show's producer Richard Godfrey.

Madonna is up for the video star category with 4 Minutes - the only nomination she has received this year.

The 50-year-old pop star will battle it out with 30 Seconds to Mars, Santogold, Weezer and Snoop Dogg, who is hosting the ceremony.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7646807.stm
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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rynner said:
[...

and now..

Astley shortlisted for MTV award

Eighties pop singer Rick Astley has become the surprise contender for best act ever at this year's MTV Europe Music Awards in Liverpool.

The star, who has never been nominated in the history of the event, is up against U2, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Green Day and Tokio Hotel.

...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7646807.stm
'best act ever'?

Let's be honest about this, Astley might as well be amongst the hopefuls, in that list.

There's not one of them that would even register a blip, on the radar of real talent.

Not even Aguilera (and her 'Candyman' is brilliant). ;)

:rofl:
 

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Botanist John Heslop-Harris believed to have planted 'discoveries'
Magnus Linklater

He was the botanist who earned acclaim with the discovery of dozens of rare plants in his beloved Scottish isles. In the placid world of botany the name of Professor John Heslop-Harrison generated a frisson of excitement whenever it was mentioned. But doubts about the professor's work - the discovery of a rare sedge Carex bicolor and the rush Juncus capitatus on the Hebridean island of Rhum, among others - have long cast a shadow over his reputation. Now new evidence has emerged that appears to show conclusively that he faked many of his key finds.

Confidential records held by the Natural History Museum suggest that Heslop-Harrison gathered seeds during his travels and then planted them in the Hebrides. He went on to claim a series of triumphant discoveries, and to build a formidable reputation in the botanical world some 60 years ago.

When doubts about his claims emerged in a book almost a decade ago, a legion of admirers rushed to his defence. Now the author Karl Sabbagh has gained access to previous unseen records which reveal that Heslop-Harrison's own colleagues harboured doubts about his claims.

Exposure of his misdeeds may have been withheld because Heslop-Harrison, a Fellow of the Royal Society and a senior academic, was near the end of his career, and it was felt that this would be too heavy a blow to inflict on him. His son, by then also a senior botanist, had become director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

Most of Heslop-Harrison's key discoveries centred on the island of Rúm, off the west coast of Scotland. There, in the course of a series of expeditions in the late 1940s, he claims to have stumbled on a series of rare plants, including grasses and sedges, some of them common in the Alps, but never before found as far north as the Hebrides. One spring, in a patch of grass in a glen above Kinloch Castle, a great sandstone building which dominates the island's main bay, he announced the discovery of a rare sedge known as the Carex bicolor. It was a sensational find - convincing evidence that seemed to support one of Heslop-Harrison's pet theories - that the Ice Age had never reached the islands with the result that many plants had survived. :shock:

Heslop-Harrison, who died in 1967 at the age of 86, reported further discoveries in unexpected places - on the islands of Rúm, Tiree and Coll. But one fellow botanist, John Raven, who was on Rúm when the carex bicolor was found, was immediately suspicious - it looked as if it had been recently planted, and there were no other examples of it to be found.

Raven, who found much circumstantial evidence confirming Heslop-Harrison's fakery, wrote up a report, but it lay buried in a Cambridge library until it was revealed in Sabbagh's book, A Rúm Affair. When the book was published, in 1999, senior botanists leapt to Heslop-Harrison's defence, pointing to his track record as a respected expert, and claiming the evidence against him was based on hearsay.

One of his scientist friends told Sabbagh: “Do I believe that he could or would fake discoveries? No, frankly I don't. Furthermore there was no need to. He discovered so many things, plants and insects, most have not been questioned ... Faking records or results would be a heinous sin in the eyes of any scientist.”

The evidence, which Sabbagh has now seen in the Natural History Museum, reveals that in the years after Heslop-Harrison's “discovery”, senior botanists were so concerned about his activities that they placed on record evidence confirming their belief that he was responsible for a large number of frauds. One from Dr George Taylor, Keeper of Botany at the Natural History Museum, writing in 1981, describes how he asked a fellow botanist, R.B. Cooke, who had accompanied Heslop-Harrison on many of his expeditions, to write down his own impressions of his methods.

Cooke's report gives a plant-by-plant account of many of Heslop-Harrison's “discoveries”. It is clear that Cooke had become disillusioned about the veracity of the claims.

The report states: “August 1936: I was shown a dozen or so scattered plants growing in a small piece of disturbed stony peaty ground ... I could not find a single plant of the Juncus ... apart from this piece of ground despite many hours search over ground in the vicinity which looked similar ...

“Rum: Since 1938 and up to 1946 when I was last on the island, I have failed to find Juncus capitatus except in 1943, when on the first full day of our visit I saw a dozen or more plants which in my opinion had been recently planted; there were to be seen marks which suggested a stone having been used to press in the soil round the roots.”

The final verdict on the affair comes from Cooke, who had been a good friend and colleague of Heslop-Harrison for many years. Writing to George Taylor in 1955, he said: “You may say what fools [Heslop-]Harrison must have thought us to be, or rather I should say I was. It was a very sad chapter in my life to be so taken in.”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 863866.ece
 

rynner2

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Pranksters print spoof NY Times

A fake edition of the New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq war has been handed out to commuters in the US.

More than 1m free copies of the 14-page "special edition" newspaper were distributed mainly in the cities of New York and Los Angeles.

Another bogus story was about all Americans being given free health care.

A liberal group called the Yes Men, well known in the US for its practical jokes, claimed responsibility for the elaborate prank.

The fake paper - dated 4 July 2009 - had a motto on its front page which read "all the news we hope to print".

The hoax was accompanied by a web site that mimicked the look of The New York Times's real website.

A page of the spoof site contained links to dozens of liberal organisations, which were also listed in the print edition.

The fake edition surprised commuters, many of whom took the free copies thinking they were legitimate.

Later, the Yes Men issued a statement claiming responsibility.

"In an elaborate operation six months in the planning, 1.2m papers were printed at six different presses and driven to pre-arranged pickup locations."

The statement added that thousands of volunteers helped to distribute the fake edition.

A spokeswoman for the newspaper, Catherine Mathis said "This is obviously a fake issue of The Times. We are in the process of finding out more about it."
 

IvanVolle

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A liberal group called the Yes Men, well known in the US for its practical jokes, claimed responsibility for the elaborate prank.

...and God bless them, Merry Highly-Organized Pranksters!
http://www.theyesmen.org/
 

rynner2

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'War hero', 74, who went to Remembrance Day parades each year, exposed as fake who bought medals on internet
By Luke Salkeld
Last updated at 10:44 PM on 18th November 2008

Medals emblazoned across his chest, Tom Cattell attends a Remembrance Day parade in honour of fallen heroes.

For nearly a decade the 74-year-old took part in services across the country, wearing the uniform of the Parachute Regiment and SAS with pride.

He told of being one of the youngest servicemen to fight in the Korean War and one of the oldest to fight in the Falklands.

However, it has emerged that Mr Cattell's stories are far from heroic as his glittering 30-year military career was all fake.

Although he said he had won the distinguished Military Medal, he confessed his stories were lies and in the Army he was 'just a cook'.

Mr Cattell admitted he had never been to the Falkland Islands and that he bought his medals on the internet.

The only military service he had seen was two years' National Service-and a brief stint with the Territorial Army.

The retired chef had lied to his wife, his friends and to Royal British Legion clubs across the country about his military record.

When asked to produce evidence of his service, Mr Cattell gave a false Army service number and claimed his records had been destroyed in a fire at his home.

His deception only came to light when he sent a photo of himself wearing medals to the RAF with a request for a replacement military baton.

It is understood that officials cross-checked his military credentials and found his claims to be false.
'My real history is that I served in Malaya,' he said.

'I was attached to the SAS in Malaya but only for a couple of months. It was like a rest centre. I was just a cook.'

Asked why he had fabricated a military career, Mr Cattell said: 'It was just a silly thing I have done.'

As part of the pretence, he bought clothing from a military tailor and 11 medals online.
Mr Cattell, who lives in St Blazey, Cornwall, said that at first he intended only to collect the medals.

He explained that he pretended to have been a member of the Parachute Regiment because he 'always admired them'.
Mr Cattell has apologised for his deceit, but not everyone has forgiven him.

A local resident, who saw Mr Cattell in a village Remembrance Parade last week, said: 'It's such an insult to the memories of people who have fought and died doing military service.'

A spokesman for the St Austell British Legion said 'disciplinary action' will be taken, adding: 'He's conned the legion, the Paras and the SAS.'

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... ernet.html
 
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