Reports surfaced overnight that a crack squad of loveable misfits – a Pisces, a jock with a heart of gold, a token sass mouth – who were assembled to take down notorious ‘street artist’ Banksy had achieved their goals. A number of outlets began reporting that the nefarious stencil artist had been apprehended, Zero Dark Thirty style, and charged with vandalism; his identity was thought to have been finally revealed.
Banksy, reportedly, was Paul William Horner – a 39-year-old man from Bristol, England. Horner was supposed to have been arrested along with four other men after finishing a cool piece of totally rad and topical street art that probably would’ve destroyed capitalism, if it were real.
Understandably, lots of people took the bait before it was promptly snatched out from under their nose; like a rat, a classic Banksy motif, snatches back the cheese it laid out as a trap to catch human idiots. It’s now looking like the man many were tricked into thinking was the real Banksy has caught himself a few human idiots, including Anonymous, Jezebel, Complex and Death and Taxes, and in doing so has elevated the art of trolling into the realm of street art. Or at least, information highway art. Clever rat, clever trap.
— Anonymous Operations (@Anon_Central) February 22, 2013
News of Banksy’s purported arrest came via the source Anonymous linked to above: PRLOG.org, a sure as hell official sounding website that the Metropolitan Police would definitely use. Quoted in the doctored press release was a hybrid super police officer named “Wayne Leppard;” Wayne Leppard is an amalgam of London’s Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard, and London’s Police Commander, Wayne Chance.
As Gawker points out, the author’s email contact listed in the release lead those savvy enough to follow a link to a humour site called ‘If You Watch It Backwards,’ and yet the source was listed as coming from The BBC; it also used fake quotes from CNN and the national broadcaster, The Big Bunch of Crap.
Shortly after its appearance, the press release was taken down, leading everyone to the conclusion that they’d all been duped. Here’s a cached version of the original press release.
It was later revealed that Paul Horner is the editor of Super Official News, the first site to publish news of Banksy’s faux arrest, and a super official one at that. Soon after hundreds of words received
the strikethrough treatment, slashed and burned by HTML and a wily rogue with a Wi-FI connection.
To ease the blow, earlier this evening Anonymous issued a sage piece of advice.
When in doubt… swallow.
— Anonymous Operations (@Anon_Central) February 23, 2013
And exit through the gift shop.