To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Woman who faked being a 9/11 survivor and ended up president of survivors support group
Featured Image Credit: Meredith Vieira Productions / Beth Dixson / Alamy Stock Photo

Woman who faked being a 9/11 survivor and ended up president of survivors support group

Tania Head said she survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks but an investigation found out she wasn't even in the country at the time...

More than two decades have passed since the world watched in horror as two planes were hijacked and flown through the Twin Towers in New York City.

The horrendous terrorist attacks on 11th September 2001 claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people and in the immediate aftermath focus turned to the victims and the perpetrators.

New York City was forever changed and life shifted drastically for those who'd survived the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

However, Tania Head, a woman who became the head of the World Trade Center Survivors’ network support group, was not one of the survivors as she claimed.

Gerry Bogacz, a man who did survive the attacks, started a support group for survivors in order to grapple with his grief.

He later came into contact with Head who had also developed an online support group for survivors.

The pair met over email and eventually merged their groups after many months of correspondence.

Head’s story of tragedy and triumph stood out to other members and she became widely known for her story of survival.

Tania Head was not who she said she was.
Meredith Vieira Productions

Head claimed to have been inside the South Tower on the 78th floor when United Airlines Flight 175 plunged into it.

Crawling through smoke and flames left her with severe burns on her arm, which was later proven to be false. She also claimed that her fiancé Dave died in the North Tower.

In an extract that she messaged to the Survivors’ Network, Tania wrote: “I looked around and it was like a horror movie. People were mounted on top of each other, the smell of burned skin, and people’s insides, was gagging. I kept thinking about my fiancé and about our wedding. I wanted to wear that white dress and swear my love for him.”

What makes Head’s lies even more puzzling is the how she galvanised the Survivors’ Network to get more help and support for its members.

She created agendas for meetings, prepared reading materials and would pay for specialised trauma experts to speak to the group out of her own pocket. The group also secured official status and state funding thanks to her.

Head was a major part of the World Trade Center Survivor's Network.
PCN Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

She was interviewed by the media about surviving the attacks and was invited to speak at conferences. However, as her story became more well-known, people started to notice inconsistencies.

One person thought her withered arm didn’t look as if it had been burned – but never raised concerns over fears of looking rude.

Others also wondered why Tania never brought friends to the group.

But things changed in 2006 when New York Times journalists, David W Dunlap and Serge F Kovaleski, raised their suspicions about her story, after having previously spoken to every person who managed to survive the terror attacks above the level of impact.

A deeper look into Head’s background uncovered that she had completely fabricated her story and as per the title of the 2012 documentary, The Woman Who Wasn’t There, she wasn’t even in America when 9/11 took place.

She was in her native country, Spain, at business school and her real name is actually Alicia. Her fiancé Dave was also completely fake.

Head shared her fake survival story before being uncovered.
Meredith Vieira Productions

Head was not charged with any crime and it is still unknown why she chose to lie.

The director of the documentary, Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. had coincidentally spoke to Head when the news of the lies broke. She had arranged for a documentary to be made about the Survivors’ Network, but obviously, the plans for the film were changed once her true identity was revealed.

Once her lies were exposed, she declined all interviews and left New York and reportedly returned to Spain.

Head was allegedly last spotted in 2011 in New York by former friend Angelo Guglielmo Jr, who claimed he'd criticised her for turning up so close to the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Topics: Film and TV