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This man is a liar.

His name is Mark Marsay, of London, England. He goes by the name “Mark Mitchell” and “Mark M.” online. Other internet handles include “Yowhound” (on Cracked and Twitter) and "Cleo's Patra." He used to run an antique-restoration business by the name of “MC Antiques”, which is now apparently defunct, and he seems to still work in the field of antique and tool restoration.

I was a bit torn over posting this. On the one hand, the story of Mr. Marsay's escapades have not, as far as I know, been detailed anywhere online that isn't private or locked, and this means that Mark will be able keep on doing this elsewhere on the Internet without even a theoretical chance of someone finding out about his reputation. On the other hand, by describing this guy as a big faker I do not want to damage Cracked’s reputation. In light of this, I want to emphasize that all of Mark Marsay’s fakery was done entirely with regards to his personal life, and not anything he wrote in his many Cracked articles, which like all articles there were fact-checked multiple times by editors. In fact, it was only when Mark got too confident and tried to take it into the article arena that the spiel unraveled.

According to the stories Mark told to anyone who knew him, this guy had not only had a liver transplant in 2010, but had also had a son who died in Gulf War 2 (or was it 1?) and a daughter who died of AIDS after an infected blood transfusion in the 80s. He overcame all this misfortune, though, and indeed leveraged people’s sympathy into contributing to a collection of fiction stories he edited and sold on Amazon. Other Cracked writers, myself included, contributed non-fiction pieces, and a Cracked editor wrote an introduction. Still others donated their time in order to copyedit and create the Kindle version. The money from the book, which sold well, was meant to go towards Kiva loans.

The money never actually reached charity, but Mark had many excuses about Amazon messing up the checks and a thousand other things. After that, I didn’t have much contact with the guy and didn’t respond to the emails asking me for more free work, not because I suspected anything so much as because I’m lazy. Meanwhile, a few other writers had apparently figured out what was going on, but chose not to tell anyone. I don’t hang out with them either so I don’t know why.

A few months back, Mark submitted a "personal experience" article to Cracked. These are different from normal articles, in that they’re less about general facts and more about your own life (for example, like this one I did). Mark Marsay’s claim at the article was that he made a living as a weaponsmith, and at first glance the article actually seemed legit (I'm guessing this is because he wasn’t completely lying – he is involved in antique restoration, quite possibly he reads up on weaponsmaking as a hobby; and also just likes to pretend he’s cool enough to make a living at it). Still, a few people immediately called him on minor errors in the text, which he brushed off with explanations and changes, and finally the eds requested more proof, particularly pictures of the weapons Mark was talking about making. Note, he'd told everyone that every weapon he makes was photographed by police (he lives in the UK, remember, and they don’t trust their subjects to defend themselves there), so all Mark theoretically had to do was give everyone the name of the police database where they were stored. Instead, he claimed that:

1. He had left his camera at home

2. His wife was mentally ill and paranoid, and would not allow his photos to go up (his wife is real, by the way. I wonder what she thinks about this)

3. He couldn’t send the pictures because he had Undisclosed Health Problem X and was in hospital for a while

4. He had suddenly entered a monastery (no, really.)

5. He would send the photos later

6. Don’t we trust him????? Some of the Cracked staff DON'T EVEN USE THEIR REAL NAMES!


Finally, he stormed off completely. His last demand was that passionate speech requested that Cracked send him an invoice so that he could repay the money he was given in advance for the article. He declared that he would not take money for work he hadn’t done. You see, Mark is honest.

When I heard about this, I spent about 15 seconds looking up the WHOIS information on a domain Mark owns, and found his real name and street address. With this information, I then found one of his old Internet incarnations posting on a forum called "Old Tools." One of his more recent posts was this delicious bio:

Back in April 2005, as some of you may recall, we bought a small farm in the south of Italy. I spent most of 2005 and all of 2006 getting it habitable… Got the garden going, raising chickens, pheasant, quail and olives, plus a couple of fattening hogs per year. Once the farm was ticking over nicely, with a good friend basically running the farm side of things, I came back to London to carry on work here, the plan being one month on and one month off in the summer, winters in Italy. Unfortunately........

I am (now was) a reservist (Technically an OTC reserve, but never mind - if they can find you they will use you). Yep, you guessed it, 6 weeks before I would be safe for all time, I got called up. A few weeks retraining, a few months in wonderful, sunny, cheerful Helmand province, and several months hospital time (and a rather interesting set of abdominal scars that look like a 3D map of the Alps) later, I make it back to the Porch.

That’s right, stealing money intended for Kiva loans recipients just wasn't classy enough for El Marsay; he's also a fake vet. Who got blown up, right before retirement. When all he wanted to do was raise quails. Because you know, that's totally how people talk about their war injuries.

I won’t lie: I’m a bad person, and it takes a lot to rouse my pissed-off-ness. I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to write this if Mark had just done the Kiva loans thing and run. But fake veterans are just kind of a trigger point with me. (You know what else is? Public bathrooms that don’t provide a hook or something to hang your purse. I mean you can sometimes awkwardly balance it in your lap but what if you have multiple bags? Is there anything filthier than the floor in a public bathroom? How many people rest their purses on the floor without thinking about it and then lay them on the kitchen counter later? Doesn’t anyone think about this but me? Anyway I am not accusing Mark Marsay of maliciously removing bathroom hooks, but I wouldn’t put it past him, if you know what I’m saying.)

Note: I’m putting up this information for the sake of information/warning people. Please do not take anything I have written here as an invitation to stalk the guy. He does have a family, and any information about them should stay out of this since I'm sure their lives are already hard enough. Please also note that there is a popular science fiction writer from Yorkshire by the name of Mark Marsay, and also a WWI historian who I think is from Scarborough. And probably many others. They are real, and are probably very nice people. However, Mark Marsay, antique restorer of London, is probably lying if his lips are moving. Do not trust him. He is a fugly slut.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 1st, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
Wow. Assityhatted massive asshat!
May. 1st, 2012 01:44 am (UTC)
As soon as I get over Undisclosed Health Problem X, I'm going to write a Cracked article about how I fought terrorists in the south of Italy by removing bathroom hooks.
May. 1st, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
But us soon as we start removing bathroom hooks THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON
May. 1st, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
If you don't have no-robots on, Google will pick this up, but LJ posts usually disappear from Google after a few months (I think it happens when other posts crowd it off the front pages). You may want to move this to a more findable, permanent location.
May. 1st, 2012 05:08 pm (UTC)
Hm, maybe I should create a single-post blogspot blog for it. Do they do better in Google results?
May. 2nd, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
I would guess that this would work, but I have no specific experience.
May. 1st, 2012 10:48 am (UTC)
I am so using that as a veiled insult: "He's the sort of person who removes bathroom hooks, mm-hmm."
May. 6th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
Douche Canoe!
Yeah, also not a fan of the veteran fakers (I was in the US Navy). As if stealing charity funds isn't bad enough he does the next worse thing and acts like he had some sort of honor once upon a time in his life and actually did something that requires courage. I literally see red when anyone talks bad about or does something to disgrace vets.

I'm feelin' a bit staby.
Blue Dilly
Jun. 5th, 2013 03:27 am (UTC)
Thanks for the info.
I had wondered what had happened with yow, but everyone has been so hush hush about it. I had submitted a story for his second book (which he accepted)that went up in flames when all this occurred, and I bought a copy of the first book. I didn't even know I had been ripped off on that front, and that the money never made it to Kiva loans. Well, you live and learn I guess. Maybe I won't be quite as easy to scam the next time around. Though I do wonder if he kept my story and did anything with it...
Oh well.

Thanks again.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )