Mr. Dark (mr_dark) wrote in hoaxes,
Mr. Dark
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Who Is Benjamin Stove?

I'm really disappointed in this one. The concept is fascinating, but the delivery was a little too slick. I think I now have enough to debunk it, although it should still prove to be an interesting read.

Over on forteana, someone posted the link to Who Is Benjamin Stove? The site tells an interesting tale of a young man who came to own a painting that just seemed odd at first, but now has an apparently supernatural history.

The painting is of a crop circle, which is no big deal as those seem to pop up all the time these days. However, after a mishap in an airport (the painting caused some sort of concern when x-rayed) it is discovered that the date on the painting is 1913. A crop circle in 1913? That's interesting...

Inside the frame is a note from a Dr. Martinez furthering the mystery, as it signifies that the painting is of an actual 'event'. All of this breaks down to the basic question of the site, who is Benjamin Stove? The painting is by a V. Stove, and the owner of the painting discovers that Ben was born in 1958 and Vera was his grandmother. There were tales of odd things about the Stoves.

All of this is well and good, but I just couldn't resist digging deeper. A whois search revealed that the domain is registered to a GMD Studios in Winter Park, FL. (That's the Orlando area.) The writer of the Stove site claims to be a collections agent in Tampa, so this was the first sign that something is up.

A little digging, and we get the next clue that this is a hoax. GMD's specialty? 'Viral' promotions, interactive hoax sites meant to promote a product. They are the studio behind the web component of that old show Freakylinks, and recently did a viral campaign for an indie film called Nothing So Strange that featured numerous bogus sites.

The final link here is one of their primary clients: Haxan Studios. Some may remember Haxan as the studio created by the two guys behind the Blair Witch Project. Haxan has a new movie coming out, Altered (formerly Probed), which deals with alien abductions.

Putting all this together, I think it's clear to see that the Stove site is part of the Altered promotion, and may eventually lead to other sites as part of the same promotion.

Dammit, and I really hoped this one would be real, such early evidence of crop circles would have been a great find.
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