A Serbian tourist became an internet star after it was reported he killed a shark that had been eating swimmers in Egypt.

Dragan Stevic threw himself into the Red Sea near Sharm-el-Sheikh and landed on the head of the man-eating shark, killing it instantly.

Mr Stevic was pictured with his quarry, hailed a hero and nicknamed "Shark-el-Sheikh" for his exploits.

Except they never happened.

After the story appeared in Macedonia, the report was picked up by newspapers and websites around the world, including the the New York Post. Bloggers quickly began questioning the authenticity of the reports, pointing out that the account was riddled with holes. The US website carolinabeachtoday.com pointed out that the picture was actually taken from their website and showed a basking shark, which only eats plankton.

And instead of the Red Sea, the shark in question actually washed up thousands of kilometres away off the coast of Duck in North Carolina.

Website writers wrote: "Sorry Dragen (sic), it was a hell of a story and we all wish it was true.

"But ... keep jumping off those piers, for someday ... it might just be."

The fake report included an account from Mr Stevic's friend, Milovan Ubirapa. He said Mr Stevic had been drinking all night when he decided to go for a swim and dived off a high diving board.

"Dragan jumped high and plunged down to the sea, but didn't make as much splash as we thought he would."