War photographer exposed as fraud who photoshopped himself in images of war torn countries
Identity fraud is a real problem these days, it seems like everyone gets stung by it at some point in their lives. Take me for example" the day before I went on holiday to Italy, my bank account was cleared of over £1,000, which was being spent in Tunisia.
Fortunately, I got it all back from my bank, but it did alert me to how easily identity fraud can be performed and made me think about the ways in which I secure my money. But while my identity fraud turned out to just be annoying more than anything, the story I'm about to tell you is just downright weird.
Brazilian photographer Eduardo Martins became a hit on Instagram after he uploaded incredible photos taken from war-torn countries from all over the planet. But there was one major problem with the photos that he was "taking": they weren't actually his.
"Eduardo Martins" was a highly-followed photographer on Instagram, with his account having racked up over 120,000 followers due to his incredible photos of people in war-torn nations across the world. However, things quickly changed for Martins when a few journalists began to get suspicious of some of his uploads.
Talking to BBC Brazil via WhatsApp in August, Martins claimed he was a U.N photographer working at refugee camps: "I am a humanitarian (volunteer) in the United Nations (UN) field. I work in the organization of refugee camps," something which he repeated for several years.
Apparently this just one of the many lies that Martins told, with him saying he was a 32-year-old Brazilian photographer who had survived leukemia as a child before he got the job at the U.N.
The hoax gets more elaborate, with Martins' photo being used in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph for several years, before one BBC reporter began doing some research into the photographer.
Natasha Ribeiro says that Martins had approached BBC Brazil about the possibility of using some of his images, and he even offered to provide them for free. For some reason, Martins was only able to be contacted via WhatsApp, with his excuse being that he was in Mosul, Iraq, at the time of contact.
Ribeiro thought that Martins behavior was strange, and when she dug deeper into his employment, it turned out no one had ever heard of Martins, not even the U.N., his apparent employer.
Of course, the next question is: if Martins didn't exist, who was that in his pictures? And if he didn't take those photos, who did?
Well, the man in the pictures is actually a British surfer by the name of Max Hepworth-Povey, and not a Brazilian photographer. As for the photos, many of them belong to American photographer Daniel C. Britt, who wasn't aware that his photos were being stolen by another account.
Martins has stolen at least nine of Britt's photos and had sold them to agencies such as Getty and Zuma for large amounts of money. In order to stop people from being able to do a reverse image search, Martins had mirrored the photos and made minor changes to them using Photoshop, meaning they couldn't be tracked back to the originals.
A Brazilian gallery reached out to Martins, expressing an interest in doing an exhibition of his work and fellow photographer Fernando Costa Netto, who had an online friendship with the Martins, unintentionally clued him up about the investigation that was going on surrounding his authenticity.
Suddenly, Martin's Instagram was swiftly deleted, and his final WhatsApp message, read: "I'm in Australia, I made the decision to spend a year in a van running the world. I'll cut everything, including internet, tb (also) I deleted the GI (Instagram). when I come back...Thanks, I'll delete the zap [sic], stay with God."
The number associated with Martins' phone has aso since been deleted.
What a strange, strange story. The weirdest part has to be the fact that he Photoshopped a pro-surfer into images of Syria, I mean that's just odd.