Woman Pretends to Be 20 People in Cruel Online Hoax

Janna St. James now faces lawsuit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2011 12:08 PM CDT

(Newser) – Paula Bonhomme met volunteer firefighter Jesse Jubilee James on an online message board in 2005. Emails and letters led to near-daily phone calls, and in 2006, Bonhomme left her unhappy marriage and planned to move to Colorado to be with James, even though they'd never met face to face. But James died before she could do so, the victim of liver cancer he'd never told anyone he had, his sister told Bonhomme. Only seven months after the fact did she learn the truth: that James, that sister, and all his friends and family members Bonhomme had also spoken to, were fake, allegedly the creations of a woman named Janna St. James.

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St. James had created the fantasy world, calling herself James' friend. She "introduced" the couple online and became Bonhomme's friend and confidant, even staying with Bonhomme after James' death. She had allegedly used a device to alter her voice and pose as James on the phone, and sent mail from James and his fake son to Bonhomme from all around the world. Bonhomme filed a lawsuit against St. James that was dismissed, but has now been reinstated by an appeals court. The court is allowing the fraudulent misrepresentation claim to proceed, even though such claims typically only apply to business situations, the Chicago Tribune reports. Hat tip to Pat's Papers for the fascinating find; click here for the full story. (Read more online hoax stories.)

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