#3. It Turns Out the CEO of Lotus Was Not Top Gun
Jeffrey Papows was the President and CEO of Lotus Corp. and if you're picturing a geeky Bill Gates-looking dude in glasses, think again. Based on his backstory, if Top Gun and Jet Li somehow had sex, they would have produced Jeffery Papows.
When asked for a picture of himself, he sent us this.
His past was as noble as it was badass. He told of his amazing rise from lonely orphaned child to daring Marine flier. He spoke of his black belt in tae kwon do and his Ph.d. from Pepperdine University. And while Papows was tough as nails, he also had a compassionate side -- he talked about how he helped support the widow of a fellow flier who died ejecting from the same disabled F-4 Phantom jet in which Papows survived.
Is that the face of a man who would lie to y- HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!
As you can imagine, the legend of Papows is pure bunk.
After it was revealed that Papows wasn't a Marine Corps captain and had zero flight time while in the service, Papows had lots of backpedaling to do. No, he didn't burst an eardrum when ejecting from a Phantom F-4 and no, there was no dead co-pilot and no widow. It seems he also didn't, as he had claimed, save a buddy by throwing a live grenade out of a trench.
Papows was also not a tae kwon do black belt, and he didn't have a Ph.D. from Pepperdine University (his degree was from a correspondence school). And to the great relief of at least two people, Papows was not an orphan. His parents were alive and well, living not too far away from his offices in Massachusetts.
They declined to comment.
It's all pretty funny, the idea of this pompous blowhard running a Fortune 500 company on fumes of manufactured glory from yesteryear. Wait, did we mention that Papows used his war hero claims to secure sales to the U.S. military? They really just don't check up on anybody, do they?
#2. Brian Valery Fakes a Law Degree, Becomes a Lawyer
If you ever wondered what Ferris Bueller would be like if he grew up and went to work at a law firm, we're pretty sure Brian Valery has shown us.
Yeah, we can actually see that.
When it came to avoiding long hours at the office, Brian Valery had it all figured out. While working as legal assistant for the prestigious law firm Anderson, Kill & Olick, Valery informed his bosses that he would be attending Fordham law school at night, and therefore needed to leave work early each day. After three years, Valery told his bosses that he finally passed the bar exam and was admitted to the New York State Bar.
Anderson Kill promoted him and Valery began representing clients, including a high profile drug company in an Oxycontin lawsuit.
Oxycontin was pissed, and someone was going to have to pay up.
Somehow, the very strict vetting process at Anderson Kill failed to uncover that Valery not only wasn't a member of the Bar, there's no record that he ever applied or sat for the bar exam in New York or even set foot in a Fordham Law School classroom, for which he was clocking out early each night to attend. It was only through a tip by an old undergraduate classmate (from a university that Valery didn't graduate from either) that Valery's ruse was exposed.
The bar Valery actually sat for.
According to later accounts, Valery did a very good job portraying a typical first or second year lawyer, in that he pretty much sucked. After cutting through his bullshit, Anderson Kill fired him and then sued him for $284,000, claiming the amount of money he defrauded them in salary differential. Valery was also prosecuted and indicted on 32 counts of fraud, including grand larceny. Holy crap! Don't screw over a law firm, kids.
#1. Janet Cooke Fakes a Heroin Baby
An interview with an eight-year-old heroin addict entitled "Jimmy's World" landed Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Journalism. Just a year earlier, Cooke had applied at the Post with an impressive resume that included a Phi Beta Kappa degree from Vassar College. Executive editor Ben Bradlee was so taken with this fact that he underlined it before forwarding the resume to managing editor, Bob Woodward (yes, that Bob Woodward), who in turn hired Cooke. Hell, on top of everything else, the woman even spoke three languages -- English, French and Spanish.
You can't fool the greatest investigative reporter who ever lived ... can you?
Immediately after Cooke's gripping tale of the eight-year-old dope addict was published, Washington, D.C., went apeshit searching for little Jimmy. Mayor Marion Barry assigned a special task force to locate the young boy -- presumably to ask him if they shared the same dealer. All schools, social services and police contacts were put on high alert. Word went out on the streets that big reward money was available for tips leading to the pint-size addict's whereabouts, presumably after the idea to leave a trail of heroin baggies into a cleverly disguised net trap was unanimously voted down.
But after a 17 day exhaustive search, Jimmy still couldn't be located. When pressed, Cooke refused to divulge any information that would help find him. She explained that she "needed to protect her sources" and was also worried about "her own safety" from vindictive drug dealers.
Vindictive drug dealers were not available for comment.
Finally, rumors began to circulate that "Jimmy" didn't exist and that Cooke had simply made him up. Even though Cooke wouldn't reveal her source and was quite dodgy about how/where the interview came to be, Woodward and the Washington Post stood firmly behind her.
Bob Woodward. The man who took down the Nixon administration.
In the midst of all this heat coming down on her, when it came time to fill out her Pulitzer application Cooke swung for the fences, scrutiny be damned. While Cooke's original resume cited her ability to speak French and Spanish, on her new one Portuguese and Italian were added to her growing linguistic repertoire. Her single (fake) award from the Ohio Newspaper Women's Association blossomed into six separate awards, along with another from the Ohio AP. The newly improved bio also showed that she graduated magna cum laude from Vassar in 1976 (she was only there one year) and attended the Sorbonne in 1975.
Via Wikimedia Commons
"And also, I invented the modern map."
After winning the Pulitzer, Cooke's newly enhanced biography appeared on the AP wire. Noting that the Pulitzer resume was even more fantabulous than the one they saw when hiring her, the higher-ups at the Washington Post finally decided to question her.
Even after a lengthy interrogation, Cooke stuck firmly to her story. So what finally caused her to come clean, causing her Pulitzer to be revoked and her to resign from the Washington Post?
Someone finally thought to ask her some simple questions in French and it was obvious that she had no idea what was being said. And ... no one thought to do that before? Why the hell aren't our employers this trusting?
For more bullshit that everyone bought, check out The 5 Most Ridiculous Lies Ever Published as Non-Fiction and 7 Movies Based on a True Story (That Are Complete Bullshit).