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Brits who 'went to Syria by mistake' admit their story is fake

By Del Crookes
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightSnapchat
image captionJames Wallman, Alex McCormick and Lewis Ellis told newspapers that they'd ended up in Syria after a night out

A 25-year-old who claimed he and two friends had travelled from Ayia Napa to Syria on a fishing boat by mistake has admitted they made the story up.

Lewis Ellis, who set up his own vlogging page on YouTube four months ago, told friends on his Facebook page that it was all a hoax.

The club rep turned prankster said: "Hahaha what a prank."

And when asked if they had actually got on the wrong boat, he replied: "Naaa we just made it up for fun."

image copyrightFacebook/Lewis Ellis

The story has been covered extensively online with news articles appearing first in the LAD Bible, then the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Star, the Express and even on an Australian website.

It appears to have been picked up after images were posted on Snapchat.

Lewis Ellis appears in the photos with fellow club reps Alex McCormick, 19, from Essex, and 23-year-old James Wallman from Hertfordshire.

Lewis, Alex and James claimed they'd gone out clubbing and instead of going to bed, had waited up to go on a dolphin watching trip at nine o'clock in the morning.

image copyrightSnapchat

But instead of getting on that ship, they said they had mistakenly blagged their way onto a fishing boat which then took them to the port of Tartus in Syria - 50 miles from Cyprus.

They said they were then taken into a Russian military base before returning to Aiya Napa.

Speaking on the phone from Ayia Napa, Alex said he'd come up with the story after a night in with the other two and put it on his Facebook page hoping someone would get in touch.

"I made the entire story up," he admits. "I was just typing it out as I was going along because the LAD Bible contacted me.

image copyrightSnapchat
image captionThis photo is supposed to show the trio in Syria - we're guessing it's in Ayia Napa somewhere...

"We thought, 'What shall we do?' And then we said 'Let's just do it and see if it does take off.'"

Alex says the hoax does have a serious point though but that it wasn't specifically about Syria.

"For us it was a little bit more political," he says. "People are more indulged in this than they are with real problems in the world.

image copyrightSnapchat
image captionThis is the fishing boat the boys said they inadvertently took to Syria

"It was interesting to see how all that would pan out. But I wasn't doing it purposefully to point out the problems in Syria. It was more ironic.

"We used Syria as a tool to get people riled up in a different way. It's about world affairs in general and it's particularly about the younger generation.

"They're more interested in the story than taking an interest in politics and seeing what's actually going on.

"Every aspect of their lives and future is going to be determined by politics and they would rather read about three lads that supposedly went to Syria and got captured by some Russians than they would determining their own fate."

Earlier this year Lewis Ellis was filmed jumping into the pool in the Trafford Centre's food hall.

He actually works in marketing but is in Ayia Napa as a club rep this summer.

He also has a master's degree in marketing from the University of Chester.

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Related Topics

  • Syria