Need an alibi? The virtual world can provide cover

26th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

Need an alibi for a tricky situation, something to get you out of the house, or into someone else's? Explain a missed meeting? Just log on to one of the increasingly available Internet sites that offer the latest in ebusiness, an alibi service.

26 September 2007

Already up and running in the United States, Britain and Belgium, sites are now being launched in Switzerland and France.

The Swiss site, launched in May, offers a choice of three languages -- French, German and English. "We can provide alibis carved in stone that are personalised and credible," it says, claiming to have bailed out about 100 clients since its launch.

The site offers a range of proofs, such as restaurant and hotel bills, invitations, requests to speak at a conference, handouts and notes, plane and train reservations, badges, pens and phone calls with a male or female voice.

"I am imaginative enough," the site's founder, Christine Barnicol, told AFP.

Barnicol, who acted as an alibi for a romantically adventurous friend, is a nursing teacher who got tired of her job and set up in the alibi business.

"But I don't do just anything," said Barnicol, who operates from Basel in Switzerland, but also works in France. "A young man asked me for an alibi to skip his exams. I said no."

Ibila, another alibi company recently launched in France by former detective Regine Mourizard, operates on much the same principles.

The site,, takes orders by email or phone. Callers are treated to the sound of a recorded voice, full of understanding, asking them to explain their case. A proposed alibi and cost estimate follow.

The charges at Ibila vary from 19 euros (26 dollars) for providing a phone call alibi, up to 50 euros for something requiring basic documents. For something more complex, prices go up from there. And if the lie falls apart, the site warns users, there is no money refund.

Ibila also warns users about French laws concerning false documentation, stating that all alibis and backup paperwork are for private use only. The company, it says, takes no responsibility for documents used illegally by clients.

A third site, set up a few months ago,, claims it has had 300 users since March this year.

"It is a profitable business," said its founder, speaking under a false name, who sold the site on eBay for 500 euros in early September. He said the business should not be limited to France but instead serve the entire French speaking world, including Switzerland, Belgium and Canada.

In France the existence of sites such as these is seen as a sign of ongoing Americanisation, said Claudine Biland, a social psychologist.

"The weight of blame in relation to a lie is much heavier in America than in Latin countries," claims Biland, researcher and author of a book called "The psychology of lying," published by French publishing house Odile Jacob.

"By using an alibi agency, the user discharges his blame onto a third party," she said. "All of it is a bit perverse," she added, saying that demand for this kind of service in France is relatively limited.

In the United States the manager of the Illinois-based Alibi Network, Mike DeMarco, who runs the company might not agree.

DeMarco has organised some elaborate alibis in his time, including a fishing trip with fake plane tickets, fake tackle and real -- though not caught with the fishing pole -- fish, for a man who wanted a weekend away with his mistress.

He judges the motivation to be due in part to people wanting to spare the feelings of a wife or husband. Although on a more practical level, he said, "It's also part of that old song, 'it's cheaper to keep her'."

AFP with Expatica

Subject: French news

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