Peter Guzli climbed to the top of the World Trade Center on November 28, 1997 and had his picture taken. Then, four years later, after the horrific attacks, he decided to doctor the photo into one of the most infamous hoaxes in history.
The picture appears to show a man standing on the observation deck moments before United Flight 175 strikes the tower. A viral email sent along with the picture claimed it had been found on a camera pulled from the wreckage.
Guzli added the plane from a stock image and changed the date stamp on the picture (did I mention he’s a computer technician?). He then sent an email to friends, but created a new email address to make it appear the message had originated from a local police chief. From there, it was posted to the Internet and went viral.
“It was a private matter – I assumed my friends would recognize me and call me to see if I was alright, but they didn’t, they posted it on to other friends and suddenly it was all over the world. I am ashamed that even now the police still get calls about it, I never did it for money and I never intended to cause any harm to the real victims or their families,” he said.
The image became a full-scale meme with the wool capped man appearing in dozens of doctored other historical moments. There is a full site dedicated to the hoax.