Main | Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stealing Your Thunder

It's not just politicians who are plagiarizing these days.
These identity thieves don't want your money. They want your quirky sense of humor and your cool taste in music. Among the 125 million people in the U.S. who visit online dating and social-networking sites are a growing number of dullards who steal personal profiles, life philosophies, even signature poems. "Dude u like copied my whole myspace," posts one aggrieved victim.

Copycats use the real-life wit of others to create cut-and-paste personas, hoping to land dates or just look clever. Hugh Gallagher, a 36-year-old writer in New York, is one of the copied. has more than 50 profiles with parts of Mr. Gallagher's college entrance essay, which he penned nearly two decades ago and later appeared in Harper's Magazine. "I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees" and "I write award-winning operas" are among Mr. Gallagher's most popular lines.

They worked well enough for Jim Carey, a 38-year-old pharmaceutical salesman in Bothell, Wash. He says he wanted women to know he was funny but was too lazy to think up anything. So he copied Mr. Gallagher's essay for his online profile. A year ago, he arranged to meet a woman for drinks. She asked about his operas. He confessed. "I felt like a balloon deflating," he says.

Original souls who discover they have been replicated say it's unethical and creepy. "I came across a guy who completely STOLE my profile message," posts one woman in Michigan. "I mean he had to have copied and pasted the whole thing and then just changed gender specific things to fit his own!!"
Guilty parties, come forward.

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