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10 Preposterous Attempts To Sustain Brazen Lies
Unless you were born with sodium pentothal running through your veins, the odds are you’ve told a lie or two in your lifetime. You’re likely also familiar with the threat of being outed as the kind of Machiavellian ape we all occasionally become.
A natural response to that fear is to buttress our untruths with even more deception until the costs outweigh the benefits. But some people take that impulse to ridiculous extremes, trying to conceal the truth in utterly over-the-top ways.
10 Kenneth Crocheron
Nowadays, 10 years is an impressively long time to commit to anything. Americans replace their cell phones every 22 months on average. The median employment tenure for an American worker is just 4.6 years. First marriages that end in divorce typically last only eight years. Utahan Kenneth Crocheron, however, remained wedded to a fake occupation for over a decade, convincing a single family that he was a nearly indestructible war veteran whose valor would put most Hollywood soldiers to shame.
Crocheron’s lies emerged from his misguided efforts to make a sick child smile. The son of actual military vet James Jeanes suffered from a rare, life-threatening disease, and Crocheron wanted to give the boy hope. So he told the Jeanes family that he was a Green Beret and three-time Purple Heart recipient who had conquered cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange. In reality, his only military experience was a five-year stint with an artillery unit at a Utah base. But once Crocheron crafted his lie, he felt kind of stuck. So he ran with it for years.
Crocheron falsified his own Green Beret website and made appearances in uniform. He even extended honorary membership to the Jeanes’ son at a Make-A-Wish celebration during which the child received an honest-to-goodness jeep. In 2007, Crocheron feigned a brief deployment to Afghanistan during which he placed a call to the family, complete with simulated gunfire in the background. Eventually, James Jeanes contacted actual military facilities to learn more about Crocheron’s larger-than-life achievements. When Jeanes discovered that Crocheron’s exploits were utter fiction, the illegitimate hero had no choice but to fess up.
To his credit, the faux Green Beret never made a dime from his fake heroism (and so technically hadn’t committed a crime), and he regularly supported the Jeanes family when things got rough. But by painting a camouflage-covered “S” on his chest and playing super soldier, he was setting up the person he wished to help most for a crushing disappointment.
9 Michael Ward II
Navy Commander Michael Ward II described it as a dream come true. After working his way up the ranks and joining the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ward became captain of the nuclear submarine USS Pittsburgh in 2012. Sadly for the newly minted sea lord, he only got to live his dream for a week before being stripped of his position. Past indiscretions had turned Ward’s career into a sinking ship, and the US Navy decided to abandon him.
For starters, Ward had engaged in coital antics with a woman he met on a dating site while married. The Internet Lothario went under the alias of “Tony Moore” and claimed to be “special ops.” He didn’t hide the fact that he had a wife and kids but instead explained that he and his spouse had separated. The affair went swimmingly until his paramour got pregnant.
Ward decided to break things off with his mistress in writing. But he didn’t send a Dear Jane letter or a text message. What he did was far crueler. The commander invented a friend named “Bob” who was instructed to contact his lover in the event that he died. To cushion the blow, Bob made sure to relay how much Ward loved her.
Saddened by the loss of her loving seaman, Ward’s lover thoughtfully trekked to his former home to pay her respects. There, she discovered another reason to grieve. The house’s new owner informed the woman that Ward was very much alive and had relocated to take command of a naval vessel. The stunned mother-to-be was literally sickened after the news and eventually miscarried. Gripped by horrible loss and bitter betrayal, the jilted woman approached the US Navy with her story.
Documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request confirmed that the military had investigated Ward’s case and branded him a ginormous fibber who was unfit to lead.
8 Tumain Dallas
In 2010, UK firefighter Tumain Dallas found himself in a pickle of his own creation. Despite being in a committed relationship, he had been secretly cavorting with another woman for seven months and inadvertently impregnated her.
Determined to keep his dishonest dalliance under wraps, Dallas pressured the woman to get an abortion. When she balked at the idea, he offered to make informal child support payments. She also pooh-poohed that appeal and instead filed a formal claim for child support. This required proof of paternity, which would obviously prove Dallas’s infidelity. So he denied his role in the baby making and recruited a stand-in to take the DNA test for him.
It’s unclear who served as Dallas’s genetic surrogate. He would later claim that it had been a friend, but the results of the paternity test suggested that a close relative did the honors. The negative result raised red flags for the child’s mother, and she dug for answers. As it turned out, whoever supplied the DNA sample couldn’t correctly spell Dallas’s name, a surefire sign that monkey business was afoot. A second paternity test confirmed what the frustrated mother already knew: Dallas was the daddy.
Dallas’s blatant fraud did not sit well with the court. A judge sentenced him to one year of hard time but suspended the term for two years so that he could financially support his child. After all, he already owed £3,700 in back pay. Dallas’s girlfriend dumped him, although it’s unclear if it was for the initial affair or the shameless cover-up.
7 Charmaine Wilson
After a drunken night of passion with 31-year-old Liam Griffiths, UK nurse Charmaine Wilson, 25, hounded him through social media and over the phone. After Griffiths summarily blocked her and changed his number, the spurned Wilson decided to pass off someone else’s child as his.
To be clear, this wasn’t a Maury Povich–style case of some woman lying about her child’s paternity to trap a man. Wilson didn’t have any kids. Rather, she “borrowed” a friend’s infant son to present as her and Griffiths’s love child. Griffiths didn’t just take the nurse’s word for it, but she was able to provide “proof.” Exploiting her hospital job, Wilson fabricated a DNA test and a phony birth certificate. Those doctored documents did the trick, and Griffiths embraced his false fatherhood with tremendous verve.
Over the course of six months, Griffiths and his relatives spoiled the child with gifts and purchased a car for Wilson to make her commute to work easier. The deceived “dad” even sacrificed his summer vacation to begin building a house for Wilson and the child. But Griffiths’s doting demeanor was also the dissembling nurse’s undoing. He began posting images of himself and his supposed son on Facebook, and one of the child’s true relatives noticed. The likely confused relative clued Griffiths in to the fact that the child didn’t belong to him or Wilson.
After Wilson was charged with forgery, a Cardiff Crown Court handed her a 16-week sentence. The presiding judge later doubled that sentence and tacked on community service. He also agreed to suspend Wilson’s incarceration if she took a “thinking skills” course. Griffiths was emotionally eviscerated, left to mourn the darling son he never had.
6 Christopher Sharp
Anyone who’s known love can probably relate to the feverish need to put their best foot forward, and it was no different for 37-year-old Floridian Christopher Sharp. Unfortunately, Sharp’s job couldn’t have been duller or less important in his mind. He spent his days toiling away at a Pizza Hut and didn’t think that his girlfriend, Randi, would be impressed. So rather than delight his better half with tales of pizza artistry, he told her that he was a Pasco County sheriff’s deputy.
Pulling off this con was no easy task because Sharp lived with Randi and didn’t own a police uniform. To remedy these problems, he stole a uniform from his sister’s boyfriend, who happened to be a legit sheriff’s deputy (and presumably the inspiration for Sharp’s lie). Every day after work, Sharp would slip into his pilfered cop garb. When he returned home, he recounted his fictional day at the precinct. But that wasn’t all. Sharp kept up his facade in public, dropping by a bar where Randi worked so that he could dispense legal advice to customers.
After about six months of showboating in a stolen cop uniform, Sharp finally got on the radar of actual law enforcement. He was arrested for impersonating an officer. Following his arrest and inescapable breakup with Randi, Sharp reportedly began following his ex and broke into her home to retrieve perfume he had purchased, possibly also filching some of her clothes.
5 Christopher Hill
In 2014, 29-year-old Christopher Hill also falsified his profession in hopes of wooing a woman. When combined with his past convictions for burglary and theft, the Waterloo, Iowa, man feared that his current profession of bartender wouldn’t go over well with his significant other or his own family. So he donned the mantle of paramedic instead.
Hill didn’t just talk the talk. He employed a scanner to detect emergency frequencies and rushed to the scenes of at least three accidents. Hill admitted to helping stabilize the neck of a woman injured in a car crash. On a separate occasion, he helped dress a leg wound of a person injured in an industrial accident. During a medical emergency at a Walmart, the fake first responder administered first aid while wearing a sweater emblazoned with the word “Paramedic.”
After several months of untrained heroics (which doesn’t appear to have harmed anyone), authorities arrested Hill for impersonating an emergency medical care provider. He pleaded guilty to all three instances. Luckily for him, the courts kept Hill out of prison, opting to sentence him to probation instead.
4 Todd Courser
Politics and artful lying often go hand in hand. So it’s hardly surprising that Michigan state Representative Todd Courser was a flagrant fibber. His deception involved extramarital chicanery that is notable for the absurdly clever smoke screen he tried to employ. Rather than denying his unfaithfulness outright, the legislator embedded it into a manufactured mudslinging campaign against himself.
Courser, a conservative Christian with Tea Party backing, had been having an affair with fellow lawmaker Cindy Gamrat, who was also married and using her Christian beliefs as political capital. In May 2015, Courser grew concerned that evidence of his and Gamrat’s naked canoodling would be leaked. To discredit the stories, he ordered one of his aides to circulate an email falsely claiming that Courser had been caught having sex with a man behind a nightclub. By the lawmaker’s logic, what appeared to be a vitriolic smear campaign by enemies, littered with bits of information about his real affair, would make his romps with Gamrat “look mild by comparison.”
The email went out days after Courser’s mid-May meeting with his aide. In an apparent bid to tie up loose ends, Courser and Gamrat upped their aides’ pay and then promptly fired them a month later. But Courser wasn’t out of the woods. Unknown to him, the fired aide who had circulated the email had also recorded their conversations and eventually ratted Courser out to the press. That exposed Courser and Gamrat’s unholy union.
Amid the scandal, both Courser and Gamrat resigned, the latter stepping down after the Michigan House of Representatives tried to vote her out of office. But despite subsequent claims of contrition, both immediately ran for reelection during a special vote to fill their vacated seats. Neither came close to succeeding.
3 Michael Guglielmucci
For two years, Australian pastor Michael Guglielmucci sang on stage with an oxygen tube in his nose and his hair falling out in clumps. He belted out songs of piety and perseverance, eliciting hope and admiration in hundreds of thousands of people. After all, if Guglielmucci could continue to do God’s work while battling terminal cancer, how could people not feel inspired? The problem with this dynamic, of course, was that Guglielmucci’s oncological struggles were fabricated.
Guglielmucci wasn’t dying of anything, least of all cancer. The only affliction he had was a severe porn addiction. The pastor had been secretly obsessed with sexually explicit materials since age 12, which is also when he started coming down with “mystery illnesses.” But for unexplained reasons, the pastor of Planetshakers Christian youth movement decided that the only way to mask his fleshly indulgences was to fabricate a fatal ailment.
Guglielmucci simulated hair loss, spent nights regurgitating into buckets, and even sent fake emails from purported doctors about appointments. Even his wife was fooled. Ever eager to support her man, Amanda Guglielmucci quit her job to be with her sick husband. But eventually, guilt (or perhaps the strain of consistent vomiting) drove Guglielmucci to do the right thing. Shedding buckets of tears, he broke down and admitted that he didn’t have cancer.
Believers everywhere were stunned. His song, “Healer,” had captivated Christians all over the world. People had donated money to Guglielmucci’s cancer cause, completely duped by his act. No one seems to have sought legal recourse, and police shied away from arresting Guglielmucci. Purportedly, he did seek psychological healing.
2 Nancy Salas
In May 2010, Nancy Salas’s friends and family had smiles from ear to ear. The daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, Salas was supposed to be graduating from UCLA with a degree in sociology. To commemorate her achievement, her loved ones organized a party for the young woman. But Salas never showed up.
In the hours that followed, friends of Salas plastered her Glendale community with fliers seeking information on the missing student. Police officers searched for Salas on foot and via helicopter in a $100,000 effort. When she finally resurfaced the next day at a flooring store, Salas informed authorities that she had been kidnapped. By the time she returned home, the jig was up.
Everything from Salas’s graduation to her involuntary vanishing act was complete drivel. She had discontinued her enrollment in 2008 after her scholarship ran dry and her grades proved too mediocre to secure another. But the pressure of being practically “worshiped” by her parents and friends left her feeling pressured to hide the truth. For more than a year, she continued socializing on campus and updating a blog devoted to sharing her college experiences. She earned money with a babysitting gig, during which she requested scheduling changes to accommodate nonexistent meetings with professors.
Salas knew that her ruse would collapse when it came time to graduate. Surrounded by proud faces and parents who wore UCLA shirts in her honor, she cooked up the kidnapping ploy to avoid admitting the truth. Once confronted by skeptical cops, however, she buckled. Those who knew and loved Salas were stunned to the point of incredulity. A woman they admired had lied to them for months and then filed a false police report. Luckily for her, the ruse didn’t result in criminal charges.
1 Jordan Liflander
On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Jordan Liflander stood before a solemn crowd at New York City’s Gibbs Stadium and told a wrenching tale of bravery and loss. On the day the planes struck, the self-described former captain of FDNY’s Ladder 133 didn’t even have to report to work. But when America sent its darkest distress call, Liflander answered, doing his best to prevent further loss of life.
Clad in a uniform with an FDNY patch, he emotionally gutted the crowd of thousands by describing the heartbreak of having to attend 47 funerals in three weeks. The stirred listeners responded with a standing ovation, certain that they were in the presence of a hero.
That day, Gibbs Stadium was undoubtedly filled with a myriad of lionhearted men who faced death on 9/11 so that others might live. Liflander, however, wasn’t one of them. He had never been a fire captain or even a member of the FDNY. The whole story was a cruel hoax concocted to weasel out of an embarrassing admission. While volunteering at South Carolina’s Cherokee Springs Fire Department, he had spun a tale of 9/11 valor that moved his colleagues.
In an interview with News Channel 7 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Liflander said, “It was just ego.” But in spewing that grotesque whopper, he placed himself in an uncomfortable situation. Liflander’s buddies in Cherokee Springs, impressed with his character and conduct, recommended him as a speaker at Gibbs Stadium. Trusting members of the FDNY welcomed the suggestion with open arms.
Rather than decline his unearned spotlight, Liflander became more entangled in his web of lies, giving bogus talks in New York and, according to him, North Carolina. But it wasn’t long before a real member of the FDNY looked into his claims and concluded that real heroes were being hoodwinked. Liflander attempted to downplay the lie, maintaining that he had actually been involved in the 9/11 rescue effort, just in a different capacity than he had described.