News, Culture & Society

War photographer fooled world with fake ISIS images

His photos of war zones and terror ravaged cities led to double-page spreads in top international magazines and more than 130,000 followers on Instagram.

But ‘Eduardo Martins’ was a fake.

Claiming to be a professional photographer from Sao Paulo, Brazil, for years he took the images of others before photoshopping them to look marginally different.

The supposed 32-year-old – whose identity has never been verified – claimed to have visited everywhere from the Gaza Strip to Iraq and even witnessed ISIS fight in Syria.

Yet after years of claiming to be a United Nations photographer and fooling the BBC, Al Jazeera, the Wall Street Journal and even Getty Images, Mr Martins was caught out last month, leading the conman to reportedly go into hiding somewhere in Australia.

Conman: A wannabe photographer calling himself ‘Eduardo Martins’ has been caught stealing the pictures of professional war photographers (pictured) and claiming them as his own 

Real vs fake: On the right are the real original photos taken by American photographer Daniel Britt, while on the left are the fake images which have been flipped 180 degrees on Photoshop

Real vs fake: On the right are the real original photos taken by American photographer Daniel Britt, while on the left are the fake images which have been flipped 180 degrees on Photoshop

After taking images from other photojournalists the mystery thief on occasion added a photo from the Instagram of British surf blogger Max Hepworth-Povey.

By photoshopping Mr Hepworth-Povey’s head into war scenes, the unknown conman made it look as though he was in the middle of raging battles.

Also sharing casual photos of Mr Hepworth-Povey surfing, the fraudster was able to make it look to his 120,000 Instagram followers like he had a life outside of war.

This all went on with the real surf fanatic completely unaware, until being contacted by concerned photographers who joined the dots together this week.

‘When my friend showed me the photos first of all I thought it was a joke, some a***hole (messing) with me,’ Mr Hepworth-Povey told BBC Brazil.

‘But actually, my photos were stolen, it’s crazy that some random guy decided to use my image among so many options across internet.

‘I work very far from war zones, with surfing trips. All my pictures have always been taken in that context. 

‘I was relaxing, sipping wine, when a friend contacted me saying that they had stolen my identity in a kind of internet catch.’

Thief: The fake photographer would steal photos  from the Instagram page of surf instructor Max Hepworth-Povey (pictured) and claim them as his own from his travels

Thief: The fake photographer would steal photos from the Instagram page of surf instructor Max Hepworth-Povey (pictured) and claim them as his own from his travels

Victim: Mr Hepworth-Povey was unaware his original images (pictured) were being taken until this week

Victim: Mr Hepworth-Povey was unaware his original images (pictured) were being taken until this week

Not only did the random thief boost his social media presence and profit from the work of others, but he also fed the media a tale of his battle against the odds.

He told how he had beaten cancer at the age of 25, before combining his love of surfing with travelling around the world photographing war zones for work.

However his downfall came at the hands of a social media friend and blogger who was able to confirm to suspicious outlets his story may in fact be completely fake.

Fernando Costa Netto, who runs surfing site Waves, told how he had spoken to Mr Martins just days before the conman went to ground, claiming to be in Australia.

‘The last two times we’ve been talking about WhatsApp, he told me that he was exhausted, emotionally shaken by the months in Mosul, but that he was going to Raqqa, Syria, for another on,’ Mr Netto wrote.

Photoshop: The mystery photo thief would cut selfies or headshots from Mr Hepworth-Povey's page before pasting them into war zones (pictured)

Photoshop: The mystery photo thief would cut selfies or headshots from Mr Hepworth-Povey’s page before pasting them into war zones (pictured)

Original: Images such as this proved perfect for the mystery photo thief to claim as his own

Original: Images such as this proved perfect for the mystery photo thief to claim as his own

But after being contacted by suspicious media he got back in touch with the fake photgrapher to warn him, before he quickly shut down his online presence.

‘I’m in Australia. I made the decision to spend a year a van. I’ll cut everything, including the internet,’ Mr Martins said. 

‘I want to be in peace, we’ll see each other when I get back… A big hug, I’ll delete the zap. Stay with God. A hug.’

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Mr Hepworth-Povey for comment. 

 

 

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk