One of the most difficult aspects of Munchausen by Internet and other factitious disorders is that its sufferers have a very difficult time stopping their behavior. Once exposed by a support group they’ve posted in or on a blog like this one, the typical response by the hoaxer is to delete everything… and spring up on a different forum, support blog or Facebook page.
Remember Carissa Hads? After the Warrior Eli hoax was uncovered, Carissa joined our Facebook group posing as a young man named James Puryear. From the very beginning, Carissa wrote about being absolutely flabbergasted anyone would pretend to be someone else online. She also asked repeatedly how we had known the Warrior Eli story was fake.
Well, it turned out she had reason to wonder how fakers are found out. Carissa was also posing as Preacher James Puryear in real life, and she sexually assaulted an underage girl. She ended up pleading guilty to traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and she was sentenced to 87 months in prison earlier this year.
After we posted an update on Carissa’s prison sentence, Jamie, one of our readers, recognized her as someone who was outed on LiveJournal in 2008.
Carissa posed as many different people on LiveJournal. One was a character named Bade Talen, a teenage father of several kids. Here’s Bade’s About Me from one of his blogs.
Bade bought one of his online friends a cell phone and she discovered, through caller ID, that it was registered under the name of Carissa Hads. This was explained away when Bade said Carissa was his stepsister.
Soon, people found the pictures Bade posted on other websites and it became obvious he wasn’t a real person. Carissa deleted the blogs and up popped several others. When it became too difficult to maintain the character of Bade after Carissa’s lies were exposed, she moved on to another character, and another LiveJournal.
Carissa started posting under her own name, but she fudged the details. The journal is long deleted, but Jamie sent us this description of what it contained.
“When Carissa had her own LJ, she claimed to be the mom of two kids, took in a third that belonged to someone named Danny, and at one point said she was pregnant. The photo of her holding a baby(which seems on closer inspection-a doll!) was something she posted to prove she had custody of this kid-“Keegan” was supposed to be nearly 18 months old at the time she took it. Carissa apparently was also very, very into the band Avenged Sevenfold-and even claimed she was actually with the lead singer, if I remember. From what I understand, the kids she had photos of herself with were found out to be a friend’s niece and nephew that she passed off as her own.”
The Photobucket associated with this account still exists, and there are pictures of Carissa verifying her identity as the person behind the journal.
Carissa claimed to have custody of a baby named Keagan, and his father, of course, had LiveJournals too, and the pictures of “Danny” were found to be stolen from other journals and blogs.
Jamie isn’t sure if Carissa is transgendered (as many surmised when she was arrested on sex assault charges after posing as a teenage boy), but says “I know there’s been some talk of that, and from what I can tell, she was indeed identifying as female in real life at some point, but online passing herself off as male, but using stolen pictures to do it as well as her own.”
It appears all of her online pretending moved into real life deception, and it finally caught up with her.
A few weeks ago, we wrote about a woman from Illinois named Jessica Friend who was posing as a dying cancer patient online. After exposing Jessica, we heard from a reader, R., who belongs to an online Cystic Fibrosis community. It’s a tight-knit group, and one day, a couple of new profiles sprang up. Amber and Courtney Vilencia were twin sisters who had Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages. The girls began posting in the group, and their mother also became an active member.
R soon found himself questioning the twins’ stories. He looked closely at their Facebook profiles and soon found pictures of Little Wrigley Field, a baseball diamond in R’s hometown of Freeport, IL. Since the family claimed to live in Los Angeles and Freeport isn’t exactly a vacation destination, R was immediately suspicious.
Shortly after this, Jessica Friend joined the group with her own Facebook profile. She claimed to have CF and asked a lot of questions about the disease. When R looked at her location information, he saw she lived in Freeport. His hackles were raised, since Freeport is a relatively small town. He asked Jessica where she went for treatment, and her answer, a small local hospital that didn’t have a CF center, didn’t make sense. R knew Jessica would have to be treated at the nearest CF center, which was in Madison, Wisconsin.
When a new profile joined the group, this time a young woman named Tara with a baby with Cystic Fibrosis, R and his friends in the group suspected it was connected to the other fake profiles and they decided enough was enough. They went through the pictures on all the profiles and found one of the twins that included their real last name. It turns out that the twins went to school with Jessica Friend, and R contacted their parents.
Then, R and other group members found the person whose pictures were used as Tara. When they messaged her, Tara said that Jessica had contacted her online in the past, asking her if she’d possibly consider adopting Jessica’s baby.
We still haven’t heard from Jessica Friend. We’ve found some local options for counseling for her, and we’d love to pass that information on to her. Jessica, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much thanks to readers Jamie and R for their research on these updates!