In the late 1990s Joe Tagliarini appeared in the news and UFO media as someone selling insurance against paranormal phenomena including Alien Abduction and Vampire Attack.
I had contact with Joe for a number of years and saw his scams at first-hand.
Joe Tagliarini appeared in the news as various disguises and pseudonyms including Joseph Carpenter, Joe Carpenter and finally Jim Armitage, sex machine. Joe and his different disguises appeared in various international newspapers, television documentaries and UFO magazines.
Let us start at the humble beginnings of little Joe’s story. Born and raised in the East end of London (Joe moved on to better things – a messenger boy for a company who when I enquired about his activities etc said “No comment, what Mr Tagliarini does now is his own business..” As Joe’s career as a street boy was coming to an end, he decided to make some money via the UFO business.
First he commissioned a local artist to paint two UFO related drawings, (described by Tagliarini as ‘crap’) then he hit on the idea of selling alien insurance – after being moderately inspired by Strange but True TV series.
In late July 1996 he began contacting many UFO groups, telling them he was selling Alien Abduction Insurance as he was “only in it to spread the word about abductions”.
Joe had the gift of the gab and he commenced fooling everybody, and I really mean everybody including the international press.
During the many phone calls I had with Joe, he began to admit that he was working with Simon Burgess of GRIP insurance, sadly this was pre-internet days and I was not aware of Simon Burgess’s reputation as a rogue insurance broker.
A month later I received another phone call asking if I knew anyone who had a piece of metal from a crashed UFO site and that he was willing to pay £40,000 for any evidence. He then asked me to be his insurance investigator if anyone claimed on the alien abduction insurance.
Things then really cranked up and Joe appeared in the Financial Times, apparently from alien insurance company “I Believe” Productions – research has proven this was not even a registered company and so the insurance was not legally binding! Then stepped in Simon Burgess who I then discovered to be Joe’s best mate, to underwrite the insurance on the behalf of GRIP.
Just a little refresher, Joe Tagliarini, a part-time electrician and small time entrepreneur decided in 1996 to jump on the X-Files and UFO boom by working with his friend Simon Burgess, who was well known at the time for getting involved in the “bizarre end of insurance.” They created Alien Abduction Insurance with “I Believe” Productions which was condemned by The Times as illegal. This is the first scam.
Soon Joe and his insurance was hot property and the media wanted in, I began to receive calls that I was somehow the insurance investigator – Joe had obviously informed the media that I was involved. I certainly had not agreed to be involved in his idea at all. I then received a phone call from Mr Toby Stokes of an un-named German television channel who told me, “Joe certainly wasn’t the person he said he was, he took us for a ride”. They even paid him £500 for an ‘exclusive’ interview. (Second Scam)
The story would begin to turn from the sublime to stupidity, when Joe purchased from a London joke shop ‘some slime’ and a claw, soon the Daily Mail was eager to print Joe’s new story that he had been abducted but was able to collect slime and get a claw while he escaped his alien abductors.
Day after day, week after week during 1996 and 1997 I noticed Joe began to use different pseudonyms for different insurances. (Third scam)
The list included:
· Being turned into a Werewolf
· Against becoming a Vampire
· Lack of Libido. (Enter Jim Armitage.)
· Being eaten by an alien
· Becoming the invisible man
The messenger service Joe worked for replied to his new stardom by sacking him, Simon Burgess, who Joe claimed was “dying from leukaemia and wanted to out with a bang”, began to get desperate.
The publicity that had spread around the world had only sold THREE insurances at the new price of £100 a year. Researching the advertising done by Joe, he had spent over £3,000 on advertising, £800 on a page in UFO magazine (who he claims to have told he was unemployed – this from the most employed man I know) and many ads in Encounters, Alien encounters and Fortean Times.
Again Joe began telephoning UFO groups (who he told me he believes 90% are ‘nutters’) asking if they would like to go ‘half’s’ in on the business.
The final stroke was to claim the alien insurance fee as Joseph Carpenter, the papers swallowed it, including the News of the World and the Daily Mail, to name but two.
According to Joe he would be presented the cheque by (quote) “Sex goddess Gillian Anderson” in a London Hotel, and that “he would like to get his hands on her as well as the cheque”.
Strangely on her appearance on the Jay Leno Show, December 1996, Gillian seems to be under the impression she was actually presenting the cheque:
“JAY: Now on your show, you must hear from like, really odd – Like I heard – were you supposed to go to London for something?
GILLIAN: I was told, that I’m going to be in London next week presenting somebody with a two million dollar insurance claim check, cause he – he’s receiving two million dollars of – um – abduction insurance. *Alien* abduction insurance.
JAY: Oh and you were gonna present –
GILLIAN: And apparently I’m – I’m gonna be there to present him with his two million dollars. [Note: Don’t her agents or whoever *consult* her before they commit her to things like this? Do they just say, “Hey, Gillian, you’re flying to London next week to present this yahoo with his alien abduction insurance claim check”? :) ]
JAY: Now this is –
GILLIAN: But they have that now.
JAY: They have abduction insurance?
GILLIAN: They – they have alien abduc – and they have alien pregnancy insurance now.”
Joseph then appeared on Nicki Campbell’s radio show with the then co-editor of UFO Magazine, Mark Birdsall and a number of abductees. After the show Joe contacted me about what had happened, “I met an abductee while me and Simon got pissed on the give-away food, anyway I bet Simon that I could chat her up….I got talking to her and she told me she was an abductee.
Marcus Walker (freelance journalist) had sold her story to The Sun newspaper and she was on the verge on becoming famous. After a few drinks, we got talking about drugs..naturally…and she reminisced about how she took huge amounts of acid in the sixties. Suddenly it fucking come to me, she was a fucking druggie! It’s like all Ufologists, full of shit, in their own little world believing in aliens. – it’s all fucking shit.”
“What’s your next project?” I asked.
“I’ve started selling cigarette tins down on the London markets…I tell you what..some wankers have started phoning me up telling me to shut the hell up. It’s UFO nuts…”
Joseph soon disappeared from the limelight. Mark Birdsall ran a story in UFO Magazine exposing Joe’s claims, aside from the various scams Joe had perpetrated, he still owed Birdsall thousands in advertising revenue.
It is sixteen years since I wrote this article and still I have emails and calls about the issues raised by Tagliarini. Interestingly in 2006 I received an email alleged from Joe claiming that he had found God and repented on the damage he had done. He was now a changed man.
Simon Burgess is no longer an insurance broker but in 1998 and 2006 he appeared twice in the media claiming that he had sold insurance to the “Heaven’s Gate” cult who committed suicide during the appearance of the Hale-Bopp comet.
Gillian Anderson never did turn up at the posh London hotel.
Financial Times – “Out of this world” July 1996
Daily Sport – “Can’t get it up?” article written by B.Ollox September 1996
Conversations with MJ Wayland and Kay Wellington
U.S. business publication Journal of Commerce on December 31, 1996
Sunday Times January 12 1997