British pop star, model and producer Carolyn Owlett got a surprise when she was contacted by a strange man who professed his undying love for her, and insisted with equal candor that she loved him as well. Regis Remacle, a 28-year-old from Belgium, had first sent her a bizarre message over Facebook, then chased her through a London subway station before finally showing up at her office (which are all charming and practical ways to show a girl that you really care). Clearly, Remacle was a delusional stalker, and Owlett threatened to call the police, because apparently harassing her over the Internet and shadowing her through a subterranean witness vacuum hadn't already crossed that line.
"Yeah, you unlock that door, baby. Unlock it slow, and call it 'uncle' lock."
What stopped her was Remacle's genuine confusion, and as the two began to talk, she discovered that he had carried on a 17-month romance over the Internet with a woman he believed was Owlett. He showed her thousands of pictures that she had supposedly sent him (all of which were real, actual photos of Owlett from her private Facebook page and those of her friends and family), along with emails and chats that they had supposedly had. Owlett was baffled, as she had never spoken to Remacle before in any fashion and couldn't explain how anyone could have given him the photographs he had, outside of a masturbation genie.
To be fair, "masturbation genie" and "Internet" are functional synonyms.
As it turns out, the real culprit was a 21-year-old Belgian woman named Kristella Erbicella, who had created a Facebook page in Owlett's name. She'd hacked photos from Owlett's account and doctored others she found online, and had even managed to dupe some of Owlett's former bandmates into accepting her as a friend to make the whole thing seem legit. Erbicella had even found photos of Owlett's young son and posted them on her page, claiming to be his mother.
When Owlett and Remacle confronted Erbicella, she admitted her elaborate ruse and offered both a hasty, pathetic apology before deleting every email and social network account attached to her name and disappearing back into the troll mist of the Internet.
"Do you think we'll ever see Master Troll again, Father?" "Son, if we do, it'll be too late for us both."
In terms of the stress involved in wedding preparation, obtaining a marriage license usually ranks in between choosing the font for the invitations and figuring out whether or not you can use Masters of the Universe figures as your cake toppers. You go to court, sign some forms, pay a small fee, and that's it. Everything's nice and legal.
At least that's all Rosa Vargas of Queens, New York, was expecting when she filed her application for a marriage license in 2004. So imagine her surprise when she found out -- three weeks before her wedding, no less -- that the application had been rejected by the City Clerk's Office because they found that she was already married to two other men, one in Mexico and one in Ecuador.
"OK, that looks great. Now, let's bring in the other husbands and get a group shot."
Undaunted, Vargas and her fiance simply went to a different jurisdiction to get their license and got married anyway, because the whole "I've already got two husbands" thing had to just be some kind of clerical error. At least that's what they thought until about five years later, when Vargas was served divorce papers from an Ecuadorian man she had never met.
She refused to sign the papers, but the man persisted. He showed up at her mother-in-law's doorstep and would not be persuaded until she showed him a picture of Vargas' wedding day, in which the man could clearly see that he was in no way represented.
Via NY Post
That's her with her actual husband ... who we're pretty sure the stranger decided he could not best in mortal combat.
You see, Vargas had lost her birth certificate about 16 years earlier, and over time her name and information had been used by two different women in two different marriages, most likely as a type of immigration scam (Vargas is a U.S. citizen, and if the docudrama Green Card is to be believed, you can marry a U.S. citizen to become one yourself).
Vargas was eventually able to get the phony marriages nullified by a judge, but has since found herself married to a third stranger somewhere on Long Island. Her name has subsequently been banned from the Bed Bath & Beyond gift registry.
And that's how she got the name Steven Seagal.
Simon Bunce was a former RAF pilot and successful business executive living in England. But in March 2004, he was arrested as part of Operation Ore, a massive British police crackdown on child pornography that also nabbed high-profile names like Pete Townshend of the Who and Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack (we cannot fathom how they missed naming it Operation the Who Massive Attack Little Children). While it might be kind of awesome to share a jail cell with Keith Richards and Iggy Pop for getting into a knife fight with a heroin dealer, we imagine the gritty coolness of rock star debauchery is somewhat diminished if you're sitting on a metal bench with a deaf guy and a glorified house music DJ for downloading pictures of a 3-year-old in a crotchless sailor suit.
"Are there any children in the audience? I'll have to ask you to move back 500 feet, please."
After police showed up at his home with a search warrant, Bunce was taken into custody while his computer equipment and other personal possessions were confiscated. To make matters even worse, Bunce was immediately fired from his high-paying job and was essentially disowned by his entire family except for his wife, which says something either very good or extraordinarily bad about her character.
Since the local police weren't in a terrible rush to clear Bunce's name, he did a little investigating of his own. He discovered that in 1999, his credit card information was stolen from an online shopping site, then used by someone in Indonesia to purchase child porn from an American website. Ironically, he found all this out using the United States' Freedom of Information Act, information that American authorities (along with everyone else) has access to at any time, meaning the sale of the child porn was tracked and nobody did anything about it. Cross-checking the information he collected with his own records, Bunce was able to prove that at the same time he was supposedly buying the child porn, he was at a restaurant in London.
"Our specials today are chicken Parmesan, blackened sea bass and child pornography."
After enduring six months of child-diddling suspicion, Bunce was told by police that they would not be bringing formal charges, as they did not find any incriminating images on any of the items they'd confiscated from him. Bunce has since reconciled with some of his family and found a new, albeit much lower-paying job. He has also sworn off credit cards and pays with cash as much as possible, because as we all know, the best way to alleviate suspicion is to erase your credit identity and deal exclusively with untraceable currency.
"If a man with a trench coat in a dark alley doesn't sell it, I don't need it."
In Wichita, Kansas, a man walked into a police station and told the cops that he was an undercover agent who had recently assumed the identity of a local homeowner, and he gave them the address of the house he was currently occupying. Therefore, should anyone call to report him as an impostor or allege that he had broken into the house in question, the police would have no need to investigate, as he had already come by to explain his situation (sharp readers will notice this as Chapter 4 of Bulletproof Plans That Will Totally Work). The cops selected one of the innumerable things about this statement that didn't make sense and sent a unit to the address he had given them to see what the hell was going on.
"Oh, and if someone reports a murder, just ignore it. It's all a part of my stakeout."
They found the same man (the "undercover agent" from before) living there under the original homeowner's identity, just like he told them he was doing. He had gotten new credit cards, set up phone service and purchased a few flat screen TVs and computers, all in the homeowner's name. He'd even invited several neighbors over for gatherings, using the original homeowner's name as his own, and none of them thought anything of it. The few neighbors who hadn't actually met him just assumed that he and his wife had purchased the home from the original owner and had just moved in as new additions to the neighborhood. The secret agent and his wife had even used the homeowner's name to take out a second mortgage.
"I could have sworn you two were black. Hm. You must have that thing Michael Jackson had."
As it turns out, the homeowner had been gone for several months, caring for his mother who had fallen seriously ill in another town. While he was gone, the "undercover agent" and his wife had literally stolen his house and his name, and then changed the locks and set up a new mailbox before inexplicably going to the police and exposing their crime.
Chris Holmes roams the Internet as the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. You can catch him on his website or on Twitter. Amanda blogs at A Spoonful of Bacon and, according to her mother, tweets too often as @amandahahn.
For more bizarre crimes we wouldn't wish on anybody, check out The 5 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes Nobody Can Explain and The 5 Most Horrifying Crimes Committed by Senior Citizens.