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Kaycee Nicole

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago

All About the Cruel Kaycee Nicole Hoax


Kaycee Nicole started out as an online persona, created by a teenaged girl. It was probably an attempt to make herself look just a little better than life.


The really twisted part of this saga is that at some point, Kaycee's persona was taken over by the girl's mother, who eventually faked Kaycee's cancer and death.


It caused a lot of problems, because the people on the other end of the modem really believed Kaycee existed. They had emailed, read her journal and site, cried at learning of her 'illness' and grieved her death.


How utterly betrayed they were.


It's one thing to go online and not give your name, show your picture, not give your number out etc. It's okay to use a nickname or some other name you just like to have. Sometimes, under certain circumstances, it's okay to pretend you're something you're not, that's how kiddy porn sites get busted and shut down.


But headgaming people by pretending to be somebody dying of an illness, or some other really tragic thing that actually causes others to weep over your sad experience, when none of the such happened, 'slimy' doesn't go far enough in describing how low down that is.


Chain mail often does the same thing, only not quite to the extent as the Kaycee Nicole hoaxter did. It's just sick. Infuriating how social parasites can get away with so much.


Links from the Kaycee-Nicole Yahoogroup page:



Summary or description


Submitted by


Kaycee Nicole FAQ

Detailed accounting of the affair from start to finish. If you're writing a story on Kaycee, start here. The Kuro5hin story is more detailed and accurate, though, and this FAQ has come under fire for taking conjecture and assumption as fact. http://rootnode.org/article.php?sid=26 DanHartung


"Kaycee"/Swenson Family/Julie Photo Archive

If you have more photos to add, please send them to caren@blueeyes.co.uk http://www.simplycaren.net/kc simplycaren


CollegeClub Photo Album

Photo Album belonging to Kaycee at CC.com http://www.collegeclub.com/f/d.asp?u=http%3A%2F%2Fphotos%2Ecollegeclub%2Ecom%2Fj%2FLogin%3FUser%3DKutebabe%40collegeclub%2Ecom simplycaren


CollegeClub Terms of Use

For reference. http://www.collegeclub.com/about_us/channelarticle.asp?id=42&article_id=34441 DanHartung


Debbie's Final Post

BWG has left her final blog post as the only remnant of the two weblogs he hosted. http://vanderwoning.com/living/mblog.shtml DanHartung


Debbie's Return?

No proof yet, but it does sound like something she could have written. Maybe she'll try to explain herself more in the future. http://livingcolours.blogspot.com DanHartung


Deconstructing Kaycee

A psychologist's take http://psychcentral.com/blogs/kaycee.htm acridrabbit


Gracemont High School Girl's Basketball Team

Photos of the Gracemont High School Girl's Basketball Team maintained by the Swensons. These photos helped track down the name of Julie Fullbright via the team roster. http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Frontrow/3838/gracemont/index.html nightngle


Halcyon's Kaycee Flash

Last year, Halcyon created this little cartoon to introduce people to Kaycee. http://www.prehensile.com/loves/kaycee/kaycee.htm DanHartung


Host of Kaycee's Blog Apologizes

Direct link to Randall van der Woning's apology. Randall goes by the moniker "bwg". http://www.vanderwoning.com/mess.shtml DanHartung


KCsCoolMom page at College Club

Debbie created this page in the persona of Kaycee's mother. http://home.collegeclub.com/KCsCoolMom/allstar.html DanHartung


Kaycee Geocities page

Part of a site apparently set up by Kelli's father. Not linked to from main site. http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Frontrow/3838/kc.html DanHartung


Kaycee Nicole: Internet Hoax

A list of links to articles and other resources, put together by About's Chatting Online Guide, Julie Martin. http://chatting.about.com/library/blkaycee.htm journalistic...


Kaycee's College Club Page

Original Webpage at College Club since ca. 1998 http://home.collegeclub.com/kutebabe DanHartung


Kaycee's Photo Double

From the evidence, it appears that the photos passed off as Kaycee were of Gracemont basketball star Julie Fullbright. http://sports.snu.edu/players/Basketball/women/Julie_Fullbright/ DanHartung


Kaycee: Faking Life and Death Online?

An online community is devastated to find out that a friend they have followed for several months was not real, but a made up persona. Find out more about the story of Kaycee Nicole and how to keep yourself safe when pursuing online relationships. http://netconference.about.com/internet/netconference/library/weekly/aa052201a.htm Kutebabe


(Kaycee) College Club Profile

Sketchy personal information here. http://www.collegeclub.com/userprofile/asp_profiledetail.asp?CCSection=MatchU&userid=10000000260545 DanHartung


Lies Online

About's Chatting Online Guide, Julie Martin (not Fullbright), covers the story of Debbie's confession. http://chatting.about.com/library/weekly/aa052101a.htm journalistic...


Lies Online II

About's Chatting Online Guide, Julie Martin, shares some new answers. http://chatting.about.com/library/weekly/aa052301a.htm journalistic...


MIRROR of many Kaycee sites

Christine is compiling a mirror of whatever she can, before they're taken down. http://www.strangecat.org/kaycee/ DanHartung


MIRROR: Logboy's Archive

Includes mirrors of the MeFi threads, Debbie's final posting, as well as a chatroom. http://www.logboy.com/jr/main.asp DanHartung


MIRROR: SimplyCaren's collection of Kaycee images

Some are mirrored from the various Kaycee websites, others come from third-party sources. The most complete collection of images of "Kaycee" or as we now suspect Julie Fullbright. http://www.simplycaren.net/kc/ DanHartung


More pictures from Kaycee

Some pictures of interiors and landscapes that are stored on Kaycee's MSN community page. http://content.communities.msn.com/isapi/fetch.dll?action=get_album&ID_Community=KCruisin&ID_Topic=1y6y6y6 DanHartung


Munchausen By Internet article

Munchausen's syndrome (faking illness in self or others) in internet forums http://healtheoffice.com/munchausen_by_internet.htm DanHartung


New York Times article on College Club

Quotes a Kaycee Swenson. Appeared to help establish her bona fides at the time. ("channel" free ride doesn't work.) http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/08/circuits/articles/10dorm.html DanHartung


Possibly a photo Debbie

From http://www.vanderwoning.ca/archives/2001may20.html#scam http://www.vanderwoning.ca/images/KCmom.jpg captcrackpipe


Swenson Family Page

Switchboard page for Debbie Swenson and family. Only shows two children, Kelli and Bryan, who do match information given in "Kaycee's" blog. http://home.switchboard.com/swensonupdates DanHartung


Tazwoman page at College Club

Peter was an online friend of "Kaycee". Some high-quality pictures here. http://home.collegeclub.com/Tazwoman/ DanHartung


the e-mail of kaycee nicole

Collection of e-mail sent by kaycee during '98 through 2000, includes her collegeclub host application and many personal messages. http://www.mojofat.com/kaycee poorbob


Blog Post-Mortems

Responses by various webloggers to the situation after it became clear Kaycee was a hoax.


DaveNet: Faking a Death Online

Dave Winer's response to the brouhaha. A concise summary of events. Compares public reaction with 1938 Halloween War of the Worlds broadcast. http://davenet.userland.com/2001/05/20/fakingADeathOnline DanHartung


Deconstructing Kaycee

John Grohol, net.personality in the psychology arena, analyzes the Kaycee creation ... and creator. http://psychcentral.com/blogs/kaycee.htm DanHartung


Derek Powazek post

His perspective on online communities has been jolted by this situation. Several interesting additional posts by readers. http://www.powazek.com/zoom/log/archive/00000058.shtml DanHartung


Halcyon Radio Show 5/23

Halcyon hosts an internet radio show every Wednesday. This is the first post-hoax show. Several of the people who were duped and who helped uncover the hoax call in. One hour; Windows Media Player required. http://img2.com/asx/firstluuuv05-23-01.asx DanHartung


Halcyon: Hoax

John Styn was perhaps the most well-known of the online friends of "Kaycee". (He won a Webby.) His thoughts on the aftermath are here. Previous posts on Kaycee are also available in his archives. http://cockywrds.diaryland.com/010520_63.html DanHartung


Kaya, Kaycee and Me

E-mail post-mortem between Jim "Kaya" Styn and Jimformation. http://www.jimformation.com/misc/kaya.htm DanHartung


Kristin Thomas: Tell me what hospital she's in

One doubter explains why -- and why it matters that we trust each other online http://www.sperare.com/archives/may01/20may01.html DanHartung


More on Debbie Swenson

Personal thoughts on the Kaycee hoax. http://bonni.net/blog/archives/00000025.html alicorna


Steven Den Beste: Trust Online

Thoughts compiled after the hoax became clear. http://home.san.rr.com/denbeste/trust.html DanHartung


Tranquileye: The Kaycee Effect

Reflections on the Kaycee hoax. http://tranquileye.com/kaycee/ jamesapatten


Doubts and Discussions

From September, 2000 there were scattered instances of skeptical posts. (Many times these were drowned out by people defending "Kaycee".) The final chorus of inquiry started with Kristin at Threewayaction, moved to Becky's blog, then when "Kaycee" died to Headspace, and acridrabbit posted the Headspace to Metafilter. The Metafilter discussion spawned a weekend-long investigation, which led to the exposure.


Becky Says entry on Kaycee.

Becky first raised doubts about the Kaycee construct in February (!), three months before her "death". http://becky-says.diaryland.com/20010520.html DanHartung


Becky-Says Aftermath

The explanation of why and how this all got started http://becky-says.diaryland.com/20010523.html anywherebeyond


Discussion on Beth/Xeney's forum

The discussion spills over from the blogger world to the on-line journallers world. http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=005H0y acridrabbit


Halcyon Board (9/2000)

Cockybastard's discussion board introduced many people to Kaycee here. Doubts were posted (2nd page, end), and Kaycee was defended (3rd page, top: bwg). http://www.teacosy.net/ubb/Forum6/HTML/000018.html DanHartung


Headspace 5/17

Headspace raises questions in an elliptical, satirical format, suggesting BWG is the author of both weblogs. http://www.anywherebeyond.com/2001/0501/051701.html DanHartung


Headspace 5/18

Headspace admits previous post was about Kaycee and BWG, further detailing case. Sparked initial MeFi thread. http://www.anywherebeyond.com/2001/0501/051801.html DanHartung


Headspace 5/20

Final Headspace post on Kaycee, after brouhaha broke. http://www.anywherebeyond.com/2001/0501/052001.html DanHartung


Metafilter Thread #0

September, 2000 thread promoting Kaycee's blog. Skeptics and cynics abounded, even then: there was much acrimony. Perfectly illustrates the divisive effect of Munchausen by Internet (see that article) on a virtual community. http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/3259 DanHartung


Metafilter Thread #1

Does Kaycee Exist? Thread 285K http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/7819 DanHartung


Metafilter Thread #2

Kaycee Was a Hoax Thread, after BWG Posts Disclaimer 300K http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/7841 DanHartung


Metafilter Thread #3

BWG Removes Blog, Apologizes http://www.metafilter.com/comments.mefi/7856 DanHartung


Threewayaction: November 2000 Skepticism

Kristin posted some pointed opinions in the Threewayaction forum in November, during a conversation about the EverQuest guide-suicide hoax. http://www.threewayaction.com/ubb/Forum14/HTML/000041.html DanHartung


Wunderblog 5/18

Snarky journal-critiquer takes on the Kaycee situation. Helped focus attention on inconsistencies. Don't miss the comment threads. http://heliophobic.net/wunderblog/archives/00000097.shtml DanHartung


Wunderblog 5/18 2

Follow-up anonymous e-mail posted. http://heliophobic.net/wunderblog/archives/00000100.shtml DanHartung


Wunderblog 5/18 3

More snarky comments on people who were honestly mourning Kaycee. Links to other discussion boards. http://heliophobic.net/wunderblog/archives/00000101.shtml DanHartung


Media Coverage

Links to articles about the hoax


A painful affair of the Internet heart

MSNBC article about the hoax not 100% up to date, but good info on gift-giving aspects http://msnbc.com/news/576899.asp?cp1=1 DanHartung


Australian IT: Tell Someone Who Cares

Article about blogging. Mentions several Aussie blogs, brief mention of Kaycee at end. http://australianit.news.com.au/common/storyPage/0,3811,2032359^501,00.html DanHartung


Corriere della Sera "Sono malata grande truffa su I"

Italian News Coverage; cred to MetaFilter http://www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Cronache/05_Maggio/24/truffa.shtml anywherebeyond


Dan Gillmor: Did Kaycee Live, or Die?

First professional journalist to address the story, in his weblog. Very brief. http://web.siliconvalley.com/content/sv/2001/05/20/opinion/dgillmor/weblog/index.htm DanHartung


Fox News Network: "Girl Alive and Well..."

Focuses mostly on Julie and Debbie, similar to the Eagle's story http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,25662,00.html anywherebeyond


Fraude na Rede

Brazilian coverage of the story, w/ links to the MeFi Faq http://www.no.com.br/servlets/newstorm.notitia.apresentacao.ServletDeNoticia?codigoDaNoticia=21877&dataDoJornal=atual anywherebeyond


Girl's illness was web hoax

Regionally-circulating AP wire story. Also picked up by FOXNews.com. http://cjonline.com/stories/052601/kan_webhoax.shtml DanHartung


Inside: Webloggers Cope With Death, Denial

The first real press story. May 21 afternoon. http://www.inside.com/page/page_display?process=StoryInsideDope&sub_process=cda.story&process_right=com.inside.cda.insidedope.InsideDopeRight&article_id=31316 DanHartung


Italia Online "Impossibile visualizzare la persona"

More Italian coverage http://scanali:sc2k!@stage-canali.iol.it/societa/primopiano.html anywherebeyond


Kaycee's Story (Local TV Coverage)

KWCH-TV interviews Debbie, Julie, and devastated online friend (no video here, sorry) http://www.kwch.com/MGBGK4ZN3NC.html DanHartung


Kaycee's tear-jerking 'blog' was all online bilge

Australian I.T. magazine http://it.mycareer.com.au/news/2001/06/05/FFXU2YJ4JNC.html anywherebeyond


Kur05hin: The Life and Death of a False Warrior

Very detailed and accurate in its timeline. Marred by some guffaws from the peanut gallery in the chat section. http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=displaystory&sid=2001/5/22/11120/1650 DanHartung


MSNBC Front Page exposure

Screenshot of the MSNBC front page with Kaycee Hoax coverage http://www.openwire.com/collections/Refs/kaycee_msnbcfront.jpg fooljay


Medica Guardian - UK

A well written piece about the hoax, and the problem of online identity verification http://www.mediaguardian.co.uk/mediaguardian/story/0,7558,497418,00.html nightngle


Minneapolis Star - Tribune Article

Their take on the situation http://www.startribune.com/viewers/qview/cgi/qview.cgi?story=84240541&timmopussycat (Link messed up, no other link found to work.)


Netslaves: Kaycee Nicole Rests in Pieces

Netslaves offers its wry take on the proceedings. http://www.netslaves.com/comments/990564969.shtml DanHartung


New York Times Coverage

We've hit the bigtime, boys. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/31/technology/31HOAX.html tweebiscuit


Oklahoman: Victim puts face on hoax

Story from Julie Fullbright's perspective (as the woman in the photos used to portray "Kaycee"). See other link for photo. http://www.oklahoman.com/cgi-bin/show_article?ID=690065&TP=getarticle DanHartung


Peabody Gazette

Follow-up article about FBI investigation. Includes picture of Debbie with her son and Julie. http://www.peabodykansas.com/23hoax.html nightngle


Peabody, KS Newspaper article

Hometown newspaper of the Swenson's. Includes quote from Debbie. http://www.peabodykansas.com/21nichole.html jennak1202


RWC Activist "Life and death..."

http://rwcactivist.com/main.cfm?include=detail&storyid=77891 anywherebeyond


Seattle Post Intelligencer

Same story as the NY Times http://seattlep-i.nwsource.com/national/25411_hoax31.shtml anywherebeyond


Suck.Com "Hit and Run"

Umm, pretty much what you'd expect from Suck http://www.suck.com/daily/2001/05/24/1.html anywherebeyond


The sad yet Untrue Story of Kaycee

Jon Carroll defends Debbie and her creation http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/06/05/DD140021.DTL anywherebeyond


Web community fooled by cancer victim hoax

Hong Kong paper writes about hoax; interviews BWG (van der Woning). Also, states BWG was going to fly to US from Hong Kong only days after Kaycee "died." USERID: metafilter PASS: filter http://technology.scmp.com/ZZZ71F5UTMC.html jennak1202


Wichita Eagle: "Girl's Leukemia A Fraud..."

Mostly about Julie and Debbie; comments on whether charges will be filed http://web.wichitaeagle.com/content/wichitaeagle/2001/05/25/kansas/0525hoax_txt.htm anywherebeyond


Wired News - "They Think They Feel Your Pain"

a very good article exploring the Munchausen angle, mentions the "Kaycee" hoax and includes other similar cases. http://www.wirednews.com/news/medtech/0,1286,44245,00.html nightngle


Members Websites



Related, ancillary material.


Brill's Parody Cover

A parody of the Brill's content cover with Matt Haughey. Pokes fun at the investigative zeal of the Metafilter community. http://www.hijinks.com/~mark/brills.html DanHartung


College Club Meltdown Live

As the original business burned, some ex-employees fiddled. http://www.spies.com/~gus/ran/0006/cclive.htm DanHartung


See Summer Swing Dance

An online tribute to Summer Brannin, a 21 year old cancer victim who went skyward in 1998. There's a charity record called Songs For Summer you can check out and be sure that a worthy cause (Free Arts For Abused Children) will benefit. If that's not relevant enough to be a link on this page, in a strange coincidence, she knew John Halcyon. http://www.thesummersite.com songsforsummer


Other Hoaxes

Stories about other instances of hoaxing or identity shifting.


A Rape in Cyberspace

Seminal 1993 Julian Dibble piece in Village Voice about Mr. Bungle's virtual misbehavior on LambaMOO (an online game/community) http://www.levity.com/julian/bungle.html DanHartung


Anandtech Hoax

A poster on Anandtech created a female persona out of curiosity, then "married" her, then "killed" her in a car accident. Questions were raised, and he could not sustain the charade. http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/19045.html DanHartung


Arbeit Mach Fraud: the Wilkomski Affair

New Republic book review concerning the story of a man who wrote an acclaimed Holocaust-survivor account (Fragments) that was later proven to be completely fraudulent. It is still considered moving writing, but due in no small part to the efforts of Holocaust deniers, truthfulness is very important in this topic. http://www.tnr.com/043001/alter043001.html DanHartung


Ben Brown Played

Ben writes of an instant-messaging friend who repeatedly set up, then blew off, meetings with him. http://benbrown.com/daily/cds.cgi?c=2000/05/03 DanHartung


Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community

Academic paper from the MIT Media Lab. http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html DanHartung


Jessa Journal Faked

An early online-journal predecessor: Jessa admits in 1996 that she faked her journal and persona. http://toybox.groovegarden.com/jessa/journal/nov96/truth.html DanHartung


Kysa Braswell - Uncovered

An expose on a hoax concerning a beautiful deaf girl w/ brain cancer. http://www.ratatak.com/mod.php?mod=userpage&menu=1100&page_id=5 friendlyfascist

(Note from owner of wiki page: Er, uhm...I've heard some strange handles, but this one takes the whole picnic!)


Life, Death & EverQuest

A guide gets fired, commits suicide, is mourned, and then turns out never to have existed http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2000/11/21/virtual_suicide/index.html DanHartung


This American Life: Hoaxing Yourself

Episode focusing on situations where people were so far into fake situations they believed it themselves. http://www.thislife.org/pages/descriptions/00/155.html DanHartung


oZ diary hoax

Another online-journal predecessor: close to 2 year diary purportedly written by a woman under the pseudonym "Ophelia Z", but in reality imagined by Ryan Ozawa, founder of Open Pages webring/Diarist.net http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6666/Diary/diary.html bigfattycoon


From the Kaycee Nicole Yahoogroup

KCArchive1 KCArchive2 KCArchive3 KCArchive4

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