If you've spent far too much time on the Internet, you may have stumbled across the story of Sergei Ponomarenko, a supposed time traveler who showed up in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2006.
According to the story, a man was found wandering the streets of Kyiv, wearing a strange outfit for the time and carrying an old-fashioned camera. He claimed to authorities that he was born in 1932 and was 25 years old. The story gets weirder, as the man got out his passport, presenting a Soviet document from the 1950s in which he still looked 25.
Ponomarenko told police that he had been taking photos of Kyiv prior to his sudden appearance 48 years in the future. According to the tale, the police then looked at his camera and realized it was an old make that hadn't been made since the '70s, and the film inside it could only be developed by an expert.
They got one in, who found that the film was surprisingly well-preserved, and set about developing the photos. He found that the pictures showed Kyiv as it was in the 1950s, and included pictures of Sergei, as well as another woman. Sergei, of course, was wearing the same clothes that he was wearing when he stopped to ask the police for directions.
The final photo showed a UFO in the sky (because why not?), which Ponomarenko said was the last thing he photographed before suddenly finding himself in the future.
Already weird enough as a story, articles around the web add that Sergei was walked to his room at the police station – captured on CCTV no less – but was never seen again. However, the police looked through historic records and found a man by that name who went missing in 1958. They tracked down his girlfriend named in the piece, now in her 70s, and found that she was the woman in the photographs.
The woman told the police that Sergei had disappeared for two years, before reappearing. Then in the 1970s, he disappeared again forever, though she did receive one photo years later, showing Sergei a lot older and supposedly in 2050 in front of Kyiv, now a large city.
Sound a little too weird to be true? Well, that's because it is. In the above video, YouTuber Joe Scott dug into the images and "footage" supposedly taken at the time and found a few problems. For one, the skyscrapers behind Sergei in the "future" photo appear to be cloned and may include the Empire State Building. Another is that the photos were all from a Ukrainian TV show called Aliens.
The show appears to be similar to pseudo-scientific shows in the US and around the world about aliens, and comes with a heavy disclaimer:
"The Alien series aims to restore scenes of controversial topics. Any theory or hypothesis proposed cannot be considered to be correct, and further scientific research is required," a translation of the disclaimer reads. "All scene restorations are based on the statements of 'witnesses'. There is no conclusive evidence to prove the existence of aliens. Your opinion on this issue is up to you."
Though supposedly a "reconstruction" of real events, the show appears to be the source of the story, or – as Scott guesses – they came across a similar creepypasta and "ran with it".
Time travel, despite rumors on the Internet, remains unconfirmed.