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Phony reporters crashing parties in city


Phony reporters squirming into parties in the city are more conniving than the guys in "Wedding Crashers"



By Marlene Naanes


Party crashers posing as reporters are apparently trying harder to get into swanky events to get a taste of free food and drinks and hobnob with influential New Yorkers.

About 24 fake journalists tried to get into a recent gala to raise money for poor children this year, compared to the usual five or so, said Claudia Stepke, head of Claudia Stepke Associates, a public-relations firm. She figures the boom of posers partially could be due to the economy.

“I was answering phones every 10 minutes,” she said.

The phenomenon can be fairly common at events that offer free refreshments, interesting guests or unique venues, publicists said. One woman in public relations who did not want to give her name or the title of her firm said it’s often the same people who try to get into the same event every year, most of whom falsely say they work for real publications.Another woman in public relations said that about 15 people showed up at the door of a recent large fundraising event that served refreshments, some handing over business cards for made-up publications.

The fakers also pretend to work for any of the city’s real newspapers or national magazines. One person, who goes by the name of Robert Miller, has persistently made the rounds with at least five public relations firms recently, saying he works for amNewYork. Miller, described only as a man in his mid-50s, has been trying to trick event organizers for years. The fake reporter has created a phony amNewYork email address and has a partner he calls Alex Page. Miller also claims to work for other publications to sneak into other events.

The man, who did not return requests for comment, possibly called one firm as many as three times recently, trying to get himself and an assistant into two galas and another event, said Susanna Mesa with the Saxton Group. Stepke has also fielded a call from the man.

The public-relations execs said the consequences of letting a faker in could mean anything from embarrassment to losing a client. It also means that a worthy cause loses money.

“The reason I found it so difficult with people that are imposters is that I’m working with children at risk academically, and every cent should go to the children,” Stepke said. “With the economy as it is…I can’t afford any one to attend these events that is not legitimate.”

Beyond free food and wine, people who pose as journalists could be seeking a boost to their self worth, said Kristin Sommer, a Baruch College associate professor in psychology.

“[That] behavior might be dominant in people who don’t have a particularly strong self worth,” she said. “Their own worth is defined in terms of the kind of connections that they have.”

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