Faking Death Online

Each day we log online. We post on our blogs, we tweet on Twitter and we partake in social networks and online communities. Through our online participation we interact with many people, but how can we really be sure if the people we are interacting with are who they say they are online. Not everyone online is honest.

Perhaps you haven’t given this subject much though, because like me, you want to believe that the people you grow to trust and form relationships with online are genuine.

Recently, an individual deliberately deceived others into believing they were dead, a practice that some are calling Munchausen by internet, a term dubbed by Dr. Marc Feldman.

For several months now members and staff of Today’s Writing online community believed they were communicating with a 40 year old fellow writer.

In October of 2009 this poet’s wife posted a message to our forums, which stated that her husband had been shot in an attempted car high jacking and was in critical condition.

The following day she was informing us that he died that morning.

Several things didn’t seem right with the story, so I asked the alleged wife to provide me with proof of her husband’s death.

I was sent a photo copy of a death certificate with her husband’s name on it (Obviously fake), which lid me to believe that she was previously exaggerating about some prior things and her husband really was dead.

Three months later we learn that this person was using an online identity that they decided to kill off, like the death of some character in a book.

This person obviously used a fake photo, which my son often said looked like the photo of some serial killer. (Who knows, maybe it was.)

The sad thing is that many community members stopped and paid their respects to a fellow writer that they thought they knew, but in truth didn’t really know at all.

Bereaved writers felt sadness and some grieved the loss of an man who faked their passing. The discovery of such deception was devastating for many of us. Some writers cared for this person deeply.

I just can’t understand what motivates a person to do such a thing as to fake their death online.

To pretend to die and then assume the role of the grieving wife is something that I find most disturbing.

Was this person suffering from some sort of disorder that lid them to fake their own death to gain sympathy and attention or do they just get some sort of sick thrill out of watching people grieve.

Either way, the anonymity of the Internet allowed this individual to pretend to be someone they were not.

This individual preyed on a community that truly does care about each people.

This person has already created a new screen name. I wonder how long it will be before they are once again faking death online.

I’ve administrated a website for several years now and this isn’t the first time that I have witnessed such Munchausen by internet.

Not everyone on the internet is truthful that’s for sure.

Tip: Use caution before adding online acquaintances to Facebook, giving out home phone numbers etc, because people are obviously not always who they say they are online.

This individual’s actions has caused me to have my guard up.

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