Never take your mother on trust in news stories

So where did Roger Stachis go to school? Bath? Preston? Cambridge? Croydon? Manchester? Solihull? Worcester? According to local newspapers in these towns and cities, the 24-year-old wannabe web entrepreneur managed to take his A-levels in all of them.

It was all part of his cross-country campaign to get publicity for the web business he was trying to get off the ground.

Only when his roving racket reached Swindon was his multiplicity exposed. Evening Advertiser reporter Kevin Shoesmith made the call to the school Stachis was claiming to have attended. They’d never heard of him. And when Shoesmith hit the net, he found 50 identical stories of how this ‘local’ boy was doing good – all around the country.

Newspapers have to take a certain amount on trust.

But it’s to the Advertiser’s great credit that it stopped the nomadic ne’erdowell in his tracks.

And it’s a reminder to all of us that the old adage has never been more apt in this age of PR manipulation: ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’ Or, as People magazine used to tell its staff: ‘Check she’s your mother.’

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