September 11, 2001 in New York City…
There are days that will live on in the mind of those that lived through them. No matter where you were, if you were alive, you probably remember what you were doing the morning of 9/11.
Alicia Esteve Head, who went by Tania, said that she was in South Tower of the World Trade Center on the 78th floor when the plane struck. She had been waiting on an elevator. Her clothes burned as she crawled through the smoke trying to find a way out. Her arm was almost severed. She passed a man who lay dying. He gave her his wedding band and made her promise to find his widow. Tania passed out and woke up as Welles Crowther was smothering the flames on her burning clothing. She begged him not to leave her. He promised that he wouldn’t. She lost consciousness again. When she woke up again, it was September 7 and she was in the hospital.
The story was powerful. Not only was Tania a survivor, she lost a loved one that day too. Her fiancé had been in the North Tower. He didn’t make it out. They were to be married the following month.
The problem was that none of it was true. Tania hadn’t been in WTC 2 on 9/11. She hadn’t been in New York City or even the United States. She had been in class at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Spain on the day of the attacks.
Tania was born on July 31, 1973 to Francisco Esteve Corbella and Acacia Head. Her family was wealthy, but her father and brother went to prison in 1992.
Tania had never been to the United States until 2003. She joined a chatroom for 9/11 victims’ family members. At first, she just read the stories of others, but, eventually, she started telling one of her own. She eventually started a page for survivors of 9/11.
In 2004, Gerry Bogacz, the president of the World Trade Center Survivor’s Network heard about Tania’s story. He contacted her. Eventually, Tania merged her group with the Survivor’s Network and became co-president.
It has been confirmed that Tania was not paid for her position in the Survivor’s Network. In fact, she donated money to the organization.
In September 2007, The New York Times was preparing to write an article to commemorate the anniversary of the attacks. They came across Tania’s story. It was noted that the facts of her story had changed over the years. She was now claiming that her husband (not her fiancé) had been killed in the North Tower. Also, she had never named any other victims in her story when she told it, not even the name of the man whose ring she had been given. She did have a large scar on her arm, but she had told people from school that it was from a car accident. The newspaper set out to verify Tania’s story before they printed it.
They discovered Tania’s whereabouts on 9/11, that her arm had almost been severed, but in a car accident in her teens, and that the family of the man she claimed was her husband had never heard of her.
Before the end of the month, Tania was exposed and the Survivor’s Network wanted nothing more to do with her.
Tania left New York City. An email was sent to the Survivor’s Network in February 2008 saying that Tania had committed suicide. This turned out to be false.
Tania was seen in New York City in 2010 and 2011.
The Woman Who Wasn’t There, a documentary that began before Tania was exposed, was released in 2012. It includes interviews from Tania during her fraud. Later that year, Tania was fired from her job due to this exposure.
A video summary of this week’s post can be found at