Brazilian war photographer revealed as con artist
One man single handedly tricked several news media outlets into believing that he was a handsome war photographer, a skilled surfer and a leukemia survivor.
INSTAGRAM — One man was such a good con artist that he managed to trick those who are supposed to be the most scrupulous about their sources — journalists. By and large, most people on social media and many in the media industry believed this man's false identity as a surf-loving war photographer.
Before being revealed as a con artist, the unnamed man went by the name of Eduardo Martins, an accomplished photographer who was not only handsome, but also a skilled surfer from Sao Paulo, and a survivor of leukemia.
Over the last three years, Martins said he worked as a United Nations war photographer, snapping events in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Iraq, where he has said to have witnessed the battle for Mosul against the Islamic State.
Martins' photos were widely used by Al Jazeera, Deutsche Welle, the Wall Street Journal, BBC Brazil and image agencies such as Getty Images. In fact, those images were actually photos taken by other photographers who actually went to such war zones. He simply inverted the images horizontally with slight alterations.
A BBC Brazil contributor in the Middle East named Natasha Ribeiro became suspicious after Martins contacted her. She later reached out to other Brazilian journalists working in the Middle East and learned that Eduardo Martins never existed.
The UN and other groups whom Martins said he had worked for told BBC Brazil that Martins never worked for them, and none of them recognize his face. BBC Brazil later discovered that the images supposedly of Martins himself, were actually of 32-year-old British surfer Max Hepworth-Povey, who had zero knowledge that this was happening.
Once the con artist's work was called into question, he deleted his social media accounts and Whatsapp. However, before he went silent, he said that he was in Australia, and is going to travel the world in a van.
BBC Brazil later learned that Martins had online relationships with at least six women, and none of them had ever met him in person.
Although the con artist' true identity remains a mystery, what he did is arguably the most successful case of identity fraud after Frank Abagnale, Jr.
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