Saturday, December 24, 2005

Student Admits Hoax in Claim That Federal Agents Visited Him in Wake of Mao Book Request

From The Standard-Times:

Student admits he lied about Mao book

By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer

NEW BEDFORD — The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for “The Little Red Book” by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.

The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.

Had the student stuck to his original story, it might never have been proved false.

But on Thursday, when the student told his tale in the office of UMass Dartmouth professor Dr. Robert Pontbriand to Dr. Williams, Dr. Pontbriand, university spokesman John Hoey and The Standard-Times, the student added new details.

The agents had returned, the student said, just last night. The two agents, the student, his parents and the student’s uncle all signed confidentiality agreements, he claimed, to put an end to the matter.

But when Dr. Williams went to the student’s home yesterday and relayed that part of the story to his parents, it was the first time they had heard it. The story began to unravel, and the student, faced with the truth, broke down and cried.

It was reckless of the student to concoct the tale to begin with, but it was almost insane to elaborate on the story when questioned.

Although many blogs accepted the story at face value, many (including this one) raised questions.

Before he broke down and confessed to the hoax, the student named the two agents:
. . . one was Nicolai Brushaev or Broshaev, and the other was simply Agent Roberts. He said they were dressed in black suits with thin black ties, “just like the guys in Men in Black.”
We don’t know whether to be offended that the student lied, or amused at the way he dug himself deeper and deeper into a hole.

But it’s easy to be amused after a hoax has been exposed. Lying about issues like this is serious business.

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