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Hoax Alert

Fake News: NO Midget Crime Gang Suspected of 55 Break-ins In Hagerstown, Maryland

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Fri, 28 Sep 2018 08:40:37 Z)

Was a gang of midgets arrested in Hagerstown, Maryland? No, that's not even a little bit true. The story about the tiny gang was copied by a new fake news website imitating the look and feel of NBC News and which is part of a larger network of similar sites. The story isn't remotely true.

The latest version originated from an article published on us-nbcnews.com (not the real nbcnews.com) somewhere in September 2018 where it was titled "Hagerstown, Maryland: Members of Midget Crime Gang Suspected of 55 Break-ins" (archived here). It opened:

Hagerstown, MD| Three members of the so-called Irish mob midgets, a Washington-based criminal organization composed of people of short stature, have been arrested this morning reports the Washington Post.

Security camera footage show the three suspects during a home break-in in which the intruders entered the house in Hagerstown through the pet door.

Authorities also believe the crime organization could be behind 55 other similar break-ins in the region.

Screenshot of http://www.us-nbcnews.com/members-of-midget-crime-gang-suspected-of-55-break-ins/

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Hagerstown, Maryland: Members of Midget Crime Gang Suspected of 55 Break-ins

Hagerstown, MD| Three members of the so-called Irish mob midgets, a Washington-based criminal organization composed of people of short stature, have been arrested this morning reports the Washington Post.Security camera footage show the three suspect

If the story sounds familiar, you would be right. Over a year ago Lead Stories debunked almost the exact same hoax but set in Boston:

Fake News: NO Midget Crime Gang in Boston Suspected of 55 Break-Ins | Lead Stories

Notorious fake/satire website World News Daily Report scored again with a hoax story titled: "BOSTON: MEMBERS OF MIDGET CRIME GANG SUSPECTED OF 55 BREAK-INS". The fake article opens: Boston, MA | Three members of the so-called 'Irish mob midgets', a Boston-based criminal organization composed of people of short stature, have been arrested this morning reports the Boston Chronicle.

The previous version of the hoax used the "Boston Chronicle" as the source, a defunct newspaper. The new version uses The Washington Post but as expected there is no story about a midget crime gang on their website.

The site us-nbcnews.com is the latest in a network of similar sites that have been posting copy-pasted fake news stories in the past few months:

  • www.abcnews-us.com
  • www.coindesk-us.com
  • www.foxnews-us.com
  • www.si-nba.com
  • www.thenyherald.com
  • www.us-nbcnews.com
  • www.vice-en-us.com
  • www.yahoonews-us.com

Some of these sites are already defunct but if you search our archives you can find several hoaxes pushed on these websites. Don't fall for them!

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

About Lead Stories

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer™ engine to detect the most trending stories from known fake news, satire and prank websites and tries to debunk them as fast as possible. Read more about how we work and how we select stories to check here.

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