We all saw the story of three club reps in Ayia Napa who recently blagged their way onto the wrong boat and ended up in war-torn Syria, at the port of Tartus.
Only a day later, James Wallman, 23, Alex McCormick, 19 and Lewis Ellis, 25, revealed on Facebook that the entire story had been a prank… And a prank which somehow made headlines around the world.
So how exactly did three lads from England prank the world, with a completely made up story which miraculously slipped through every fact-checking safety net and skyrocketed to become one of the most-read headlines of the week, within a matter of hours?
I spoke to James Wallman and got the story behind the prank.
“We didn’t plan the prank”, he explained. “We were out looking for an apartment and ended up in a place we joked looked like Syria. Alex took the picture to send to his mum as a joke, and it then got posted on Facebook. Within a couple of hours, the photo had hundreds of likes and The LAD Bible had contacted us.
“Within hours we had been contacted by so many different reporters, and said the exact same thing. They all just ran with the story anyway.”
Wallman added: “Journalists wanted it to be real; we literally just went along with it and answered everything how they wanted it to be answered.
The prankster trio wanted to get across that what the media reports, is not always correct. “When the news got to Australia we realised it had gone massive. I was work at the time. All you had to do was google Syria and we were the first thing to come up. It is ridiculous when there is so much happening in Syria and we manage to make it above all of that.
“We have had so many messages from people in Syria thanking us for mugging off the media because all they write is bad articles about them.
“We were mentioned and quoted in debates online about the EU Referendum, and why you shouldn’t just believe what you are told.
“The prank ended when Lewis replied on Facebook saying it was a prank and the press saw it.
“The fact that it came out as a prank quickly was good because we soon realised we could have got in a lot of trouble otherwise. A security officer came and found us at work to tell us that the prank had caused a lot of problems and had gone as high as the Prime Minster.
“One thing we want to stress is that we didn’t plan this. It started from a Snapchat which went to Facebook and then the press just ran with it.”
While what has been named the ‘greatest prank of all time’ has left Wallman and his friends being recognised daily for their appearance the media, it has also brought an incredibly valuable point to the public eye.
In a business where the first to post the article is the one which will get the views, this just goes to prove that perhaps attention to detail and fact-checking is being omitted along the way.
The 23-year-old from Hertfordshire concluded, telling Hollseey: “I have proved that it’s rubbish. If nothing else has come from it, I’ve at least proved to my mum that she shouldn’t believe everything she reads on the Daily Mail.”