WHEN you've overloaded with work as a student, it can be tempting to cut corners – whether that's reading the book summary on Wikipedia or watching the film adaption instead of reading the actual textbook.
That said, we've never heard of anyone trying to steal a professor's work from another university and trying to pass it off as their own before.
Unfortunately, this was the exact scenario Dr Matt Lodder – a Senior Lecturer in Art History and the Director of US Studies at The University of Essex – was faced with a few years ago.
Sharing his bonkers experience with the Catfish on Twitter, Matt revealed the American student initially asked if he could interview him for a story about tattoos for his university magazine.
After this, the anonymous student – who had a history of identity theft – then used multiple different fake accounts to contact Matt about his work.
"[He] used a variety of fake identities to get me to send him unpublished research, which he then submitted as his own for his degree, and presented at conferences," Matt claimed. "I have a video of him dressed as me, reading out a book chapter I wrote at a conference."
But the student didn't stop at just passing Matt's work off as his own – he then proceeded to start dressing like him, copying the poses in his social media photos and then even got a matching hand TATTOO.
However, Matt said the student was eventually caught when another historian spotted him stealing her work and realised he'd been plagiarising Matt's too.
He continued: "We reported him to his supervisors with a portfolio of evidence showing the lengths he'd gone to.
"They were shocked, because as far as they were concerned, he was a brilliant student working far, far above the usual level. Given that he was basically submitting publishable work for his Master's degree, he had really made a reputation for himself."
What's more, the student had even won scholarships by plagiarising Matt and other academics' work and had been working as a teaching assistant at his university.
Matt added: "Last I heard, they were kicking him out and looking back at his undergraduate studies in more detail too.
"At the end of it all, he uploaded a screenshot of Citizen Kane and then changed his profile picture to this genuinely creepy mask thing."
In response to a follower's horrified comment, Matt wrote: "I doubt he could have parlayed it all into an academic career directly, but if he'd have been subtler about it, he'd definitely have gotten a good MA."
The thread has racked up over 10,000 "likes" and left followers stunned.
What is ‘Catfishing’ and where did the term come from?
'Catfishing' is when someone creates fake profiles on social media sites to trick people into thinking they are somebody else.
It is most common on social media and dating apps like Tinder.
They make up life stories and use photographs of unsuspecting victims to create fake identities. Catfishers add life experiences, jobs, friends and photographs to the fake accounts.
The term was first used in the 2010 documentary 'Catfish' – in which Nev Schulman discovered the gorgeous woman he fell in love with online was a middle-aged, married mum.
Schulman fell in love with "Megan" – but also spoke to her mum Angela, half-sister Abby and stepdad Vince online.
At the end of the documentary Schulman discovers "Megan" was a fake account run by Angela using a family friend's photos.
One replied: "Wow what a story! That would be an excellent film / Netflix documentary."
"That’s beyond strange," another added. "I don’t quite get why he was both dressing up as you and apparently using your work to get a degree under his own name."
Meanwhile, a third replied: "If they were willing to put that much time, energy & thought into this epic grift maybe they just could have, I don't know, done their own work??"
For more viral stories, this woman was left horrified after discovering two-way mirror & wires hooked up to cameras inside hidden wall in her new home.
And this woman was in hysterics after the rug she ordered online is a fraction of the size when it arrives.
Plus this mum who got her son to touch-up blonde highlights in lockdown raged when she ends up looking like Narnia’s ‘White Witch’.
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