How to Fake A Life

August 12, 2002

Looking at Matt’s site, he talks about Kaycee Nicole and the past discussions on Metafilter about the controversy surrounding this horrible hoax. I started hearing about Kaycee from Brian and Jerry Pournelle over at, so I took a look. I read through some of the journal and I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it didn’t make sense. I know a year later, it’s easy to say you weren’t drawn in, but I honestly wasn’t. I felt something was amiss with the photos and just that a teenage girl doesn’t write or talk like that. Call me a cynic, but I just didn’t believe.

And what was the deal with Debbie….Kaycee’s “Mom”? Was it virtual Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome ? Was she so in need of attention that she created a virtual girl to make ill at her own whim to build attention? She kept up this phony life…this complete lie, to “Bring a voice to three people she knew who died from cancer”. I couldn’t even imagine what was going on in her head. Debbie didn’t even think what she did was wrong….Dr. Marc Feldman in Alabama has a neat site about Munchausen Syndrome , Malingering, Factitious Disorder, & Munchausen by Proxy. It’s a good read and in a way, relates to the story.

So how hard would it be to fake a life? She took the image of someone who wasn’t even aware of it all until the lie came out. That image gave a face. ( In my honest opinion, had she or whomever did the image, been better at Photoshop, more people would have been drawn in. That’s what threw me off.) Debbie’s writing and phone calls provided the voice. Then she gained validation by talking with people who became her defenders…that is until the truth was sorted out. In BWG ‘s #6 section “Aftermath”, he tells what happened afterward and his thought about who he talked to and the extent of the lie. Fake emails…..fake friends…..using altered voices to talk to someone on the phone.

Reading through the MetaFilter threads about Kaycee, people were able to forgive Debbie, the same people who were defrauded by starting this hoax. She accepted their Amazon gift certificates, gifts and cards…. With respect to Haylcon and BWG, these were two of the many people who were drawn in. They were genuine with their caring about someone they never even met in person. That takes a lot. People generously helped. Think about the local cancer groups in your area….how many of them would love to receive $100 just to give a book, or a hat to a cancer patient? Think of how many more people would have been touched, that actually needed it, if these people would have just redirected their givings to actual organizations instead of a person. I wonder now, how many of the people who gave to Debbie/Kaycee now give to charities? Or even volunteer for charity?