Saturday, September 29, 2007

La Vanguardia has a bit of a scoop today. You may have heard that a woman calling herself Tania Head, who was until this week the president of the 9/11 survivors' association, has turned out to be an impostor.

She's from Barcelona and her real name is Alicia Esteve Head; her family are well-known Barcelona business people. Her father and brother were sentenced to prison in a 1992 fraud and forgery case. Between 1998 and 2000 she was a secretary for the company that owns Barcelona's Hotel Arts, Hovisa. Her co-workers say she always wanted to be the center of attention and was a "complicated" person who made everyone's live difficult. She was notorious for telling wild stories about her experiences; she claimed that a scar on her arm was the result of the surgical reattachment of the arm after a car accident, to have studied at Harvard and Stanford, and to have a plastic surgeon boyfriend in the US. Later she claimed that her arm was injured during the WTC bombings, but she already had the scar while living in Barcelona. Her co-workers say she speaks very good English.

Time magazine explains quite clearly why people like her do things like this:

"Why do people do this? There's an obvious benefit," says Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Irvine who is famous for her critical work on the recovered memories of alleged sexual-abuse victims. "It may not be immediately financial. But certainly being bathed in a love bath of attention and affection is a lot of benefit for a lot of people."

So La Vangua beat everybody on this one. Congratulations. But did they have to run it on the front page, give the story pages 3 and 4 (the top of the international section), and an editorial? It's not that big a deal, though the newspaper says that the case has "descolocado" (surprised, shocked) New York.

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