“...and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you!”
You thought Charles Ponzi, George Parker, Soapy Smith or Frank Abagnale Jr. were the most cunning conmen you know of? It’s time you add another one to this list.
This unidentified man who called himself Eduardo Martins, pretended to be a United Nations War photographer from Brazil and fooled not just commoners but also news agencies around the world.
He made his fans believe that he wasn’t just handsome, but also a skilled surfer and a childhood leukemia survivor. The fans of Martin’s work didn’t know until recently, that the 32-year-old, who had more than 100,000 followers, was actually just a façade. Eduardo Martins doesn’t exist at all.
The face the fraudster used as “Eduardo Martins” actually belonged to the British surfer Max Hepworth-Povey, who has no connection whatsoever with war photography.
No one knows who the real person behind Eduardo Martins actually is. The whole lie came into light when, war photographer and Waves site columnist Fernando Costa Netto published an interview with Martins, with whom he had developed an online friendship. The interview that was published in July, spoke highly of the photographer’s work.
However, shortly after the interview was published, Costa Netto received calls from BBC Brazil and an unknown English publication, informing him that Martins was fake. According to reports, when Costa Netto questioned Martins regarding this, he deleted his Instagram and WhatsApp.
Before deleting his social media accounts however, he told Costa Netta that he was in Australia and that he wanted a break from technology. “I’ve made the decision to spend a year in a van, I’ll delete everything online, including Internet. I want to be in peace, we’ll see each other when I get back. For anything, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. A big hug. I’m going to delete the zap. God be with you. A hug,” he said.
This exchange led Costa Netto to publish a follow-up report in August. Additionally, the BBC had previously published a long profile of Martins and his life story, which has since been retracted after Middle East-based BBC Brazil contributor Natasha Ribeiro became suspicious. Martins had contacted her and she realized that no one she knew in the region had ever actually met him, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Riberio confirmed with the United Nations that they had never employed anyone called Eduardo Martins.
The mystery fraudster had inserted Hepworth-Povey into dozens of photographs depicting war zones, he told BBC Brazil that “it’s crazy that some random guy decided to use my image among so many options across internet.”
If you thought that this false persona is bad enough, you’d be surprised to know how he acquired his photos. He doctored images from photographers all around the world, inverting and retouching them so they’d become unsearchable, and then shared them on “Martins’” account.
Now that took his con to an all new level!
The photos he uploaded were taken from Getty Images, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, and other such outlets.
The mystery of Martins’ real identity is still unsolved!
Title image : escapingtheclutchesofreality