Alicia Esteve Head
|Born||Alicia Esteve Head
July 31, 1973 
|Other names||Alicia Esteve,
The 9/11 Faker
|Occupation||Best known as activist, fraud|
Board member of
|The World Trade Center Survivors' Network|
Alicia Esteve Head (born July 31, 1973) is a Spanish woman who claimed to be a survivor of the World Trade Center September 11 attacks under the name Tania Head. She joined the World Trade Center Survivors' Network support group, later becoming its president. Her name was regularly mentioned in media reports of the attacks. In 2007, it was revealed her story was fabricated: Head was not in the building at the time of the attacks or even in the United States, having traveled to the United States for the first time in 2003.
World Trade Center Survivors' Network
Some survivors report that they received little support in the aftermath of the attacks, with most attention paid to victims and their families, police officers and firefighters. The World Trade Center Survivors' Network was an informal support group started by two survivors of the attacks partly as a reaction to this. The group slowly grew in size as additional survivors joined. After joining the group, Head's lobbying saw survivors gain increased recognition. She successfully negotiated for survivors to be given access to ground zero, which they previously did not have.
Head had joined the survivors network in 2004 after Gerry Bogacz, one of its founders, learned through word of mouth that a woman named "Tania Head" had developed an internet group for survivors. She joined the group after some months of email correspondence with Bogacz.
Claims as a 9/11 victim
Head claimed that she was on the 78th floor of the South Tower (WTC 2) when United Airlines Flight 175 hit that floor. This would have made her one of only 19 people at or above the point of impact to have survived. She claimed her fiancé Dave was killed in the North Tower (WTC 1). In later tellings of the story, he was said to be her husband. She also claimed a dying man passed his wedding ring to her so it could be returned to his widow. Head also said that she had been rescued by Welles Crowther who perished in the collapse after rescuing several people and whose heroic actions were widely reported in the media.
Volunteer work as representative victim
In 2005 Head was chosen to lead tours for the Tribute W.T.C. Visitor Center for visitors including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former New York Governor George Pataki. Head made many speeches at colleges and with support groups, recounting her story as a survivor of the 9/11 attacks.
Head said these activities were unpaid volunteer efforts on her part. She was presented in retrospective articles on the World Trade Center aspect of 9/11 as representative of all of the 20,000 surviving New York victims who escaped the damaged buildings.
In September 2007, The New York Times sought to verify key details of Head's story. Head backed out of three scheduled interviews, and later refused to speak to reporters. The New York Times contacted other members of the Survivors’ Network, some of whom unsuccessfully urged Head to speak to the reporters. The New York Times' probe raised questions about the veracity of Head's story and by the week of September 27, 2007, the Network voted to remove her as president and as a director of the group.
One of the elements of the story in question was her engagement to a man named "Dave". The man's family claimed to have never heard of Tania Head (the man's identity was withheld to protect his family's privacy). Janice Cilento, a social worker on the board of the Survivors' Network and close to Head, said in September 2007 that Head had made changes to her account in recent weeks. Head claimed a degree from Harvard University and a graduate business degree from Stanford University, but the institutions reported there was no record of her having been a student there.
According to Adrian Gatton, producer of Channel 4 documentary The 9/11 Faker, Head was not even in the United States on September 11, 2001. She was in Barcelona, Spain, attending business school. A report in Barcelona daily newspaper La Vanguardia on October 2, 2007, said Head had attended Master of Business Administration classes at ESADE Business School in Barcelona just a week after the September 11 attacks. Her classmates do not recall her discussing the attacks or losing a fiancé or husband, and she showed no recent injuries. Head told her MBA colleagues that the arm injury was the result of an automobile accident, or alternatively a horse riding accident.
La Vanguardia reported that Head attended classes in the program until June 2002, and had told classmates she wanted to work in New York. Head had earlier attended the University of Barcelona, and worked for a local entertainment promoter and for Hovisa, a Spanish hotel company.
In February 2008, an email sent from a Spanish account to members of the World Trade Center Survivors Network claimed that Head had committed suicide. However, in the documentary The 9/11 Faker broadcast in September 2008, Head's whereabouts were said to be unknown.
In the book and feature film documentary titled "The Woman Who Wasn't There", Head's story was told from inside the World Trade Center Survivors' Network utilizing interviews with Head and members of the Network before and after the deception (Head declined further interviews after the revelation of her identity). At the conclusion of both book and film, Tania Head was sighted in New York City on September 14, 2011, refuting previous claims that she had committed suicide.
In July 2012 Head was fired from her latest position at Inter Partner Assistance, an insurance company in Barcelona, once her employers found out about her ruse in New York. She had been performing well but the company was afraid of losing customers' trust.
- Peirón, Francesc (16 April 2012). "Un libro narra el engaño de una barcelonesa en el 11-S". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- Pullman, Laura (25 March 2012). "'YOU'RE scared! I'M the one that went through hell': How fake 9/11 victim tormented genuine survivors". Daily Mail. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- Gatton, Adrian (September 12, 2008). "The fantasist of 9/11". Daily Mail (London). Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12. "Eventually, her story became so widely reported that the New York Times wanted to interview her. When she avoided them they grew suspicious. Last year she was exposed in a front-page story by the paper. Tania had not been in New York on 9/11 at all. Her real name is Alicia Esteve Head. She did not work for an investment bank as she claimed, but had been attending classes in Barcelona."
- David W. Dunlap and Serge F. Kovalevski (September 27, 2007). "In a 9/11 Survival Tale, the Pieces Just Don't Fit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "Tania Head's story, as shared over the years with reporters, students, friends and hundreds of visitors to ground zero, was a remarkable account of both life and death."
- Michael Daly (September 7, 2006). "An Amazing Woman & Her Smile". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2007-09-27. "The momentum of her memories sometimes causes Tania Head to tell a tour group about the horribly burned man who handed her his wedding ring as she escaped the south tower. On occasion, she also tells the visitors that her own husband perished in the north tower. She always begins by introducing herself to those who come for a first-person account of 9/11 from one of the 122 volunteer guides at the new Tribute WTC Visitor Center.. "My name is Tania and I'm going to be your tour guide today," she said the other afternoon."
- "Woman's 9/11 survival story questioned". China Daily via Associated Press. September 27, 2007. "Tania Head has said that she was badly burned on the 78th floor of the south tower, that she was saved by a man who died trying to save others, and that a dying man handed her his inscribed wedding ring, which she later returned to his widow. She also said her husband, or fiancé, died in the north tower."
- "Tales Of The City, Revisited". Time (magazine). August 29, 2004. "People cannot understand. We saw things," says Tania Head, who was injured while evacuating. "We had to make life-or-death decisions. The higher the floor, the more lonely you were. I can't get rid of my fear that it's going to happen again."
- "Paper finds big holes in woman's tales of surviving 9/11". USA Today. "She has a compelling story. Is it true? The New York Times reports today that "no part of her story, it turns out, has been verified." The company she says she worked for on 9/11 says it never heard of her. The same goes for the family of her "fiance" or "husband," according to the paper."[dead link]
- "Alicia Esteve comenzó curso en Barcelona días después del 11-S". La Vanguardia. Archived from the original on 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
- "The same old story". New Statesman. September 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-09-13. "Take Cutting Edge: the 9/11 Faker (Thursday 11 September, 9pm), which was about Tania Head, who claimed to have been on the 78th floor of the South Tower during the attacks on the New York World Trade Center when, in fact, she had been in Barcelona at the time (for added piquancy, she also invented an imaginary fiancé who died in the inferno of the North Tower). Head is a fantastic subject for a film, but her story has been told before, in some detail, by the New York Times, the newspaper that discovered her fraud."
- Channel 4, The 9/11 Faker, broadcast September 11, 2008
- Dunlap, David (March 14, 2012). "CITY ROOM; 9/11 Faker Is Spotted Briefly in New York". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- Forn, Marta (July 11, 2012). "Tania Head, impostora del 11-S, despedida de su empresa en Barcelona". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 January 2013.