Just Because It's Trending Doesn't Mean It's True
Hoax Alert

Fake News: Celebrity Couple Did NOT Drown in Canada While Fishing

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 09 Jul 2019 10:33:20 Z)

Did Shaunae Miller & Marcel Uibo, Zodwa Wabantu & a lifeguard, Maggie Gyllenhaal & Peter Sarsgaard, Connie & Shona Ferguson, Nia Long & Massai Dorsey, Mohammed Al Amoudi & his wife, Kykly & Michael Clarke, Keira Knightley & James Righton or Juna & Adam Sinclair all drown while fishing in the same lake in Canada? No, that's not true: a network of fake news sites has been putting out the exact same death hoax story about several people with only names and some small details changed. None of it is real. The same network also launched hoaxes about a club killing patrons for meat and about a car crash in Toronto killing several celebrities.

A popular copy of the story was an article published on June 13, 2019 titled "BREAKING NEWS: Shaunae Miller and husband Maicel Uibo drown in Canada while fishing - Latest News" (archived here) which opened:

Celebrity couple, Shaunae Miller and Maicel Uibo have drowned in Canada in what police are calling a "case of misadventure".

The accident took place at Lake Ontario, Canadian province of Ontario, according to Police statement.

The Bahamas High Commission representative reported to family members that Shaunae Miller and her husband, Maicel Uibo, were fishing on June 4, when Shaunae fell into the water. She was in distress and Maicel jumped into the water to assist her. According to the Embassy, both were pulled from the water but could not be resuscitated.

Screenshot of https://cbtvn.com/shaunae-miller-and-husband-maicel-uibo-drown-in-canada-while-fishing/

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

BREAKING NEWS: Shaunae Miller and husband Maicel Uibo drown in Canada while fishing - Latest News

Celebrity couple, Shaunae Miller and Maicel Uibo have drowned in Canada in what police are calling a "case of misadventure". The accident took place at Lake Ontario, Canadian province of Ontario, according to Police statement. The Bahamas High Commission representative reported to family members that Shaunae Miller and her husband, Maicel Uibo, were fishing on ...

The exact same story appeared on the same site or on several related sites and we expect more copies to pop up about other people.

The websites pushing the story strongly resemble sites from a Ghana-based fake news network Lead Stories exposed in April 2018:

Global Fake News Network Responsible For Dozens of Death Hoaxes Shuts Down After Ghana Connections Revealed | Lead Stories

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. On April 17, 2018 former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away but a full day earlier an article prematurely announcing her death from a website pretending to be CNN managed to rack up a combined 2.3 million likes, shares and comments on Facebook.

Right now Lead Stories suspects following sites are part of the "new" network:

  • ab-tc.com
  • canada-tv3.com
  • cbtvn.com
  • news-ap.com

These sites all engage in behaviour that is very similar to sites in the old network:

  • Repeating the same story with locations/names changed.
  • Using dashes, "news", "tv" or "radio" in domain names.
  • Promoting death hoaxes (the same sites published multiple fake death stories all set in Toronto, Canada recently).
  • Using the MGID ad network for monetization.
  • Filling their front pages with "real" news copied from other sites.
  • Spreading links to the hoax stories through fake Facebook profiles on various local and buy-and-sell Facebook groups/pages.

By itself each of these individual methods is not enough to make the connection. But all of them taken together strongly suggest it is the same person or persons. Don't fall for stories like these!

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

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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.

Spotted a hoax that you think we should investigate? Have a tip? Want to send us a correction? Contact us!

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