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Monday, December 03, 2007

Liar, Liar

With increasing reports on a growing trend in the cyber world, where hoaxers and impostors are falsely using Tarkan's name causing financial and emotional damage, there is a need to act responsibly in social networks.

Liar, Liar, Hearts On Fire

Impostors are falsely using Tarkan's name causing financial and emotional damageTarkan's name is usually synonymous with music and love but there are people out in the cyber world that are willing to use that name to trick and deceive.

Fans are not accustomed to seeing the words 'Tarkan' and 'deception' side by side, and yet because of the unscrupulous behaviour of certain people, it seems that there is a growing trend of con-artists pretending to be friends or family members of Tarkan, or even the singer himself. Such hoaxers know that Tarkan has a growing and devoted cyber community, and are trying to use this for their own selfish means.

Tarkan DeLuxe has received many e-mails reporting such incidents. The rise of the amount of e-mails about this issue is worrying.

Victims of Deception

One such young lady e-mailed a complaint in 2002, explaining how she had started chatting to someone on Yahoo! Messenger who had seen her public profile. She had quite innocently listed Tarkan as one of her interests. "He told me that he was Tarkan's cousin," she wrote, "and he told me so many things about Tarkan that I believed it was true.  I never thought that I was just part of someone's game."

Yet, many people unwittingly are becoming the pawn of a plot that turns out to be complete fiction. When all the hopes and dreams shared in those months, and sometimes years, of communication turn out to be a lie, who can they turn to?

And it is not only the female which is prone to this deception. "She told me she was Tarkan's niece living in Germany," explained Selçuk, a young musician living in Ankara. "She said she could introduce me to Tarkan. For a musician just starting out, it seemed like a dream come true." Selçuk continued his tale: "She said that she wanted to run away to Turkey, as her family did not want to move back. If I would only lend her the money to help her come to Turkey, once here she would get in contact with her uncle and introduce me to him. Looking back, I knew I was foolish. But I believed her."

Selçuk lost over $400, an amount which he could ill-afford to lose. Some cases however, the price is even higher. As in the sombre tale of Cami (see pic below), who had never even heard of Tarkan until one day in 2004 when  "I was on an internet dating site [in the US] ...and I got a letter from someone in April ... he wrote me and sent me a picture of the real Tarkan and told me he was a musician, he went to a lot of trouble pretending to be Tarkan." Very soon, Cami had formed a bond with this person she believed to be Tarkan, and had started to develop serious feelings for him. However, Cami was to learn that everything she had been a part of for the past three months had been a sham.

Heartbroken Cami contacted Tarkan DeluxeFollowing that, she contacted Tarkan Deluxe. "It was quite devastating to learn that the person had only been pretending..." Worse still, the man had continued the charade by claiming to be a close friend of Tarkan, and that Tarkan had really written to her in the beginning, but had lost interest. Heartbroken, Cami continued: "I just thought the real Tarkan should know that someone has been using his name like this. I know he probably will not really care, but I think he would care that someone was pretending to be him... but I guess I am just a foolish American girl who really knew nothing of Tarkan until now."

Cami also explained how she would hate for anyone to go through what she has endured, and that through no fault of her own or Tarkan, the artist's music held a bitter place in her heart.

Three years has passed since Cami's experience, but at the time she was still hoping to enjoy Tarkan's music again one day, confessing, "what's really sad now is that I can’t even listen to any of Tarkan’s beautiful music any more because I associate it with this [other] person and I cry when I hear his music now and look at Tarkan’s pictures."

Identity Theft

It is common knowledge that Tarkan's name is used all across the Internet. With almost every webhost, free email account and blog you will notice that the "Tarkan" name is unavailable.

Arguably, this is only to be expected. True fans wanting to show their appreciation or love for their idol take his name to use as an e-mail address to show their support, or create personal web pages as homage to him. Such fan support can only help, not hinder.

However, the other side of the coin, where people actually lie and pry into people's personal lives by pretending to actually be someone they're not, is a completely different matter. Not only could it possibly be criminal in a legal sense (for example if financial fraud is involved), but it is also morally criminal. To play with the emotions and feelings of people is wrong. There can be no excuse for the continual use of lies to further a greater lie, even if a person "believes" they do it out of love. Love and friendship flourishes under respect and honesty. In such shams, both are sorely lacking.

It's also a type of theft for the man whose name has "been stolen". It is identity theft. Yet, what can Tarkan practically do to prevent this abuse of his name and character? Nothing, it seems for the time being. It is left to the common sense and practicality of the victim, not to be taken in by the impostor. But as many of the mails received show, the victims are level-headed, logical people who are duped by polished liars.

And what if the situation becomes worse once the deception is uncovered, as in Cami's case? "Instead of Tarkan being stalked," she had explained, "this guy who is using Tarkan's name and picture is stalking me."

The Dark Side of the Net

Unrelated to Tarkan, but related to the general topic of personality scams and stalkers, is the bizarre tale of a boy who used the internet to plot his own murder. Judge David Maddison, the recorder of Manchester, had said of the case: "Skilled writers of fiction would struggle to conjure up a plot such as that which arises here. It's staggering to be dealing with a case that arises out of a 14-year-old boy's invention of false personalities, false relationships and events arranged for his own killing at the hands of a 16-year-old boy who he had met via an internet chat room." (Guardian, 29 May 2004)

"This case serves as a stark warning of the dangers of the dark side of the internet," Nicholas Clarke, prosecuting, had told the court.

With the rise of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, where many fake celebrity sites are appearing, not only are young people putting themselves at risk of identity fraud because of the material they post, but contacting these "fake" celebrities lets the con-artist see their private details, too.

Millions of young people could damage their future careers and also put their lives in danger, unless they act responsibly. As the 2004 Manchester case shows, you just don't know who is out there.

It is a thankful thing that no such case has been taken to life-endangering extremities with the usage of Tarkan's name, but if fans across the Internet are not warned of the dangers, then it is a foreseeable possibility.

Of course there are some exceptions; there have been times when a person has contacted and met a famous person or people online. However, for every exceptional case, there are a hundred that conform to the rule: that if something seems too good to be true, then it usually is.

It is every fan's dream to one day meet their star in a chat room or in a forum, and to get to know them intimately. And for every young dreamer, it seems there is some deceiver out there, for whatever reason, ready to take advantage of that dream.

Please, don't let them.

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All excerpts of correspondence have been used with express permission. This article was first published in 2004, and was updated in December 2007.

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