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Dave 3rd September 2006 01:16 AM

Ben Clemens Phone
The latest "must-see" real-life web drama is the case of Ben Clemens, who says his cellphone was stolen from a train in California during August. The thieves apparently didn't know the phone was set to automatically upload photos to the net, so photos taken by the thieves have been published online.

Fascinating story. Or at least, it was fascinating the first time I heard it in another strikingly similar case. The difference with this case is that some people are doubting it's authenticity.

I'll go on the record now as saying I'm in the hoax camp. This looks a little too suspicious to me...
  • Ben Clemens is a web designer. No harm in that but web designers are naughty people (I'm one). Hoaxes like this are usually done by web designers.
  • Bens explains in his blog: "It had been set up with the excellent service from ShoZu to automatically upload all pictures taken with the phone to Flickr". Sounds suspiciously like the wording of the fake product recommendations you see in forum spam.
  • The photos just don't look convincing. There are no faces and just not enough information to identify a person or location.
  • There are ways to track the people who posted these photos but Ben hasn't reported trying any of them. It is unclear what, if anything, the police are doing.
  • Suddenly Ben's blog is having trouble accepting comments. Or could that be comments which point out the suspicions?

Maybe I'm being terribly unfair. There is no hard evidence that this is bogus. I'm just noticing some red flags. If I had to put money on it I'd say that this is either Bens' shot at his 15 minutes fame, or a sneaky attempt at viral marketing for ShoZu and/or Flickr.

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