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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Boy NOT Hailed As Hero, Did NOT Shoot Pedophile Home Intruder Dead

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 02 Oct 2018 21:34:16 Z)

Did a boy aged 7 (or 9) from West Jordan, Utah (or Wilmington, South Carolina) get hailed as a hero after shooting dead a pedophile home intruder? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a site that is part of a network of fake news websites that keep recycling the same hoaxes but set in different locations. None of it is real.

The story originated from an article published on October 1, 2018 on nbc9news.com (not the real NBC News website) titled "West Jordan boy, 7, hailed as hero after he shoots pedophile home intruder dead" (archived here) which opened:

An incredibly brave seven-year old boy from West Jordan, Utah is being hailed as a hero after he shot dead a home intruder with a record of sex offences against children yesterday evening.

The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was alone at the property when the intruder broke in. Hearing the sound of breaking glass, the boy rushed from his room into his parent's room, where he knew his father kept a handgun in the bedside table.

"I know Daddy told me never to touch his guns," the boy told officers in a statement made after the shooting, "but I was scared and I didn't want to get kidnapped by the bad man."

Screenshot of http://nbc9news.com/west-jordan-boy-7-hailed-as-hero-after-he-shoots-pedophile-home-intruder-dead/

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

West Jordan boy, 7, hailed as hero after he shoots pedophile home intruder dead

An incredibly brave seven-year old boy from West Jordan, Utah is being hailed as a hero after he shot dead a home intruder with a record of sex offences against children yesterday evening. The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was alone at the property when the intruder broke in. Hearing the sound of ...

The exact same story but set in Wilmington, South Carolina also appeared on cbs15.com (not the real CBS News website)

Wilmington boy, 9, hailed as hero after he shoots pedophile home intruder dead

An incredibly brave nine-year old boy from Wilmington, North Carolina is being hailed as a hero after he shot dead a home intruder with a record of sex offences against children yesterday evening. The child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was alone at the property when the intruder broke in.

That story was denied by local police sources according to good4utah.com:

Fake news: Police say West Jordan pedophile shooting never happened

WEST JORDAN (News4Utah) - An incredible story about a 7 year old West Jordan boy killing a pedophile intruder is making the rounds on social media but police say it's fake news.

That article makes some good observations:

A closer look reveals that NBC9News.com is not a legitimate news outlet. It's filled with salacious "click bait" stories and the purported author Delmar Jones has no online profile plus the West Jordan story contains hints it was written outside of the United States like the spelling of "offenses" as "offences" and the word "inquiry" for what we would normally call an "investigation".

We would agree with that hunch: we've been observing the network of fake sites that published the story for quite some time now and we are quite convinced the author does not live in the United States but in a different English-speaking nation.

It also offers this suggestion:

The story was likely created by a pro gun rights organization.

We would rate that as unlikely. Sites in the network have seldomly favored particular political points of view in our experience and the author seems to be more concerned with maximizing pageviews and ad revenue by frequently reposting stories that do well but changing the location where they supposedly happened.

We wrote about nbc9news.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

The site is part of a larger network of sites that are all designed to look like real U.S. based news outlets but which simply repost older hoaxes repackaged with different pictures and new location details. The network is quite old and most of the sites in it have ceased operating but new ones keep popping up. Here are some of the sites we recently noticed activity on:

  • nbc9news.com
  • cbs15.com
  • www.thenyherald.com
  • www.tmz-us.com
  • www.us-nbcnews.com
  • tvtnews.com
  • cgcnews.com

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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
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