The founders of Penny Arcade pulled a fast one on one of their most notorious foes this weekend, hitting Paul "Ocean Marketing" Christoforo with a prank they say has been in the works for the past three weeks.
Christoforo, who set off an internet firestorm several months ago when he sent a series of inflammatory emails to address a customer complaint, was apparently caught this weekend pretending he was at Penny Arcade's PAX East, a convention he was banned from. On Sunday, he tweeted photos from the show floor as if he was there. But he never took those photos. Penny Arcade co-founders Mike "Gabe" Krahulik and Jerry "Tycho" Holkins texted them to him.
On Twitter, Christoforo has admitted he did not take the photos but maintains he was at the convention.
As in previous incidents with Christoforo, there's a bit of a back-and-forth to this one.
There hadn't been much public animosity between Christoforo and the Penny Arcade crew since the incident in December, but the feud resurfaced in the days leading up to PAX East last week. Christoforo engaged with Penny Arcade business manager Robert Khoo on Twitter, at one point threatening to "fucking re arrange [Khoo's] teeth."
Christoforo also used racially charged insults to describe Khoo, who is Asian American.
On Friday and Saturday, Christoforo went on to tweet that he was at PAX East, meeting with clients and walking around the show floor. In response to questions about how he got into the show, he told Twitter users that he was "in disguise".
Perhaps to prove that Christoforo had not actually made it to the show, Penny Arcade's team pranked the marketer by texting him four photographs from the show floor. Christoforo took the bait, tweeting out the photographs on Sunday and saying he was there.
Krahulik then pulled off the lampshade, linking to a Twitter account called @paulyoudummy and telling readers to check the timestamps to show that Penny Arcade had prepared all four photographs before Christoforo ever tweeted them.
"I can tell you that there was a carefully crafted plot over the course of three weeks that led up to the moment," Khoo told Kotaku in an e-mail, adding that Krahulik will write more about the prank on Penny Arcade's website in the near future.
"He accidentally tweeted with his location turned on while he was supposedly already at the show, which displayed his hometown," Khoo added. We have not verified this tweet, but it may have since been deleted. Khoo says he is "99% sure" Christoforo was not at PAX East.
Christoforo later admitted that he did not take those photographs, although he still says he was at PAX East on Friday and Saturday. He has also posted several other show-floor pictures on his Twitter account, some of which, as Twitter users have pointed out, appear to have been shot on multiple cameras. (Christoforo addressed this by saying he indeed took the pictures with different cameras.)
We've reached out to Christoforo to find out more details about this bizarre story, but he has not yet responded. We'll update if we hear more from the infamous marketer.
Update 1: Christoforo tells us he really was at PAX:
"No pics of me in them but I was there. Gabe and them tried to pull a prank on me Sunday but i was never there on Sunday I was trolling twitter they put some pics up and I was texted the same pics I don't know if it was from them or someone I had inside on Sunday but I did not go on Sunday but wanted to mess around," he said in an email.
We've asked for a few more details on just how he got into the convention. We'll keep updating as we hear more.
Update 2: We asked Christoforo how he got into PAX East. Here's what he said:
"I just had on a hat glasses and hoodie the Altier in Assassins Creed. The Badge wasn't in my name and I can't give the individuals name on that. I was also rocking a full beard as well and have lost 25 lbs since spikes interview." [sic]