As with many mythologies of self, there is an alter ego involved.
In October 2003, an Internet user in the Philippines logged on to the website CreditBoards.com and created an account under the name “bboy777.” Bboy777 described himself as a Filipino national living in Manila who had U.S. assets, and therefore an interest in participating in an online community devoted to the accumulation and cultivation of American consumer credit.
Bboy777 let it be known that his real name was Bryan; sometimes he signed his forum posts “BryanBoy.” He described himself as self-employed, and said that because he worked for many U.S.-based clients, he had opened bank and brokerage accounts in the country. (He described in detail how this was possible, with an IRS-issued Individual Tax Identification number instead of a Social Security number, a Mail Boxes Etc address instead of a street address, and an account statement from the Internet phone service Vonage instead of a utility bill.)
Over the next 18 months, bboy777 would post over 2,400 times to the CreditBoards forums. He provided TransUnion and Equifax screenshots of his credit scores (low-to-mid-700s, or slightly below average) and scanned pictures of over 20 cards he claimed to carry, including a Pentagon Federal Credit Union Visa, a Household Bank MasterCard, a Bloomingdale’s card, a Kinko’s card, and four cards issued by National City, the Ohio-based bank that was acquired by PNC in 2008 and which bboy777 described as “my local bank in IL.” (Bryan has said he has family in the Midwest.) He also scanned a picture of his Louis Vuitton wallet. It had 10 credit-card slots; most held at least two cards. The pictures were hosted by a Photobucket account registered to “bryanboy.”
Bboy777 posted publicly about his weight-loss goals, harrowing diet drug experiences, and loathing for fake designer goods—topics with which any reader of BryanBoy’s blog will be familiar. Bboy777 was also gay; whenever the talk on the discussion boards turned personal and someone brought up marriage he’d joke that he was obligated to remain a bachelor—“unless someone charters a concorde using his amex black and fly me to boston, massachusetts.”
At that time, friends say Bryan was working as a virtual assistant, providing administrative and technical assistance to, and sometimes building websites for, remote clients. Said one person who knew Bryan in the early 2000s, “Whenever we went out, he’d always complain how he had to go home at a certain time of the day because he had deadlines for clients.” (On CreditBoards, bboy777 talked about his “billable hours,” and once mentioned charging $12,000 worth of Stamps.com postage for “order fulfillment.” He had a sideline business in acquiring domain names, to later sell at a profit.)
All told, he amassed a combined business and personal credit limit of nearly $200,000 by late 2005. The history revealed on CreditBoards goes some way to explaining how Francis Bryan Yambao, a high-school educated 20-something still living with his parents in a home friends describe as “pretty modest,” in a country where the per-capita GDP was just $4,100 in 2011, and where 33 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, was able to acquire the Dior handbags and Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses and Karl Lagerfeld furs he photographed himself wearing at exclusive nightclubs and restaurants. “Highest single charge of $4,000 as [sic] Chanel on Biz card,” wrote bboy777. “No call/verification needed.” (BryanBoy did not respond to comment requests by press time.)
All the while, he was blogging about his life and purchases on the BryanBoy blog that would eventually win him fashion fame.