Experience: I tracked down my impostor

I found a video clip of him at a conference, reading out a chapter I’d written. He was dressed like me. He had even copied my tattoos

I’ve been an academic since 2013. I am a senior lecturer in art history, and director of US studies at the University of Essex. What drove me towards an academic career was my interest in tattooing. There is a very small group of tattoo historians in academia, so we all know one another well.

In November 2017, Anna Friedman, a Chicago-based academic with a similar specialism, contacted me. She had received a like on Instagram from an account she thought was interesting. Clicking on the profile, she saw it was a duplicate of her page and that the guy had also made a copy of her website, including her very specific biography, but under his own name. When she looked at his profile on academia.edu, she instantly realised that his bio was a copy of mine; the papers he’d supposedly written were actually by me. He’d claimed to have given talks that I, or others in our academic circle, had given. Anna messaged me asking if I knew who this person was, but I had no idea.

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