Stolen phone leads Niskayuna native on global odyssey

Niskayuna native Matt Stopera, left, a writer for Buzzfeed, and the newfound friend he refers to as "Bro Orange," right, pose with Ellen DeGeneres after appearing on the daytime talk show "Ellen." (Twitter)Niskayuna native Matt Stopera, left, a writer for Buzzfeed, and the newfound friend he refers to as "Bro Orange," right, pose with Ellen DeGeneres after appearing on the daytime talk show "Ellen." (Twitter)

BY MARK MCGUIRE
Gazette Reporter

NISKAYUNA — Matt Stopera did not intend to write the next great Internet epic, an ongoing bromance saga that started out as a simple stolen phone mystery, mushroomed into a social media frenzy, morphed into a case study of celebrityhood and somehow resulted in the Niskayuna native and Buzzfeed writer becoming pop-star famous in China.

“It should never have gone this far, but the internet works in mysterious ways,” the 2005 Niskayuna High School graduate wrote. “None of this should have ever happened. It makes absolutely no sense at all.”

No, it doesn’t.

The odyssey begins in 2014, at a happy hour in a Manhattan bar. Stopera is drinking wine. His phone gets stolen. Attempts to call it go to voicemail; that phone is lost for good. That should have been the end of the story. And it was, for almost a year.

Then Stopera started seeing photos on his new phone, photos he did not take, photos apparently being taken with his once-pilfered smartphone. He wrote a story for Buzzfeed on Feb. 17: “Who Is This Man And Why Are His Photos Showing Up On My Phone?” It turns out the person who bought his stolen phone was still connected to his iCloud stream. There were a lot of selfies: The 27-year-old writer dubbed the person “Orange Man” because there were an inordinate number of photos with oranges in the picture.

Read more about the Niskayuna native’s newfound friendship with “Bro Orange” and his experience with fame at The Daily Gazette.