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

Fake News: Sex Trafficker Did NOT Lie On The Road And Attack Motorist

  • by: Ryan Cooper
  • (Thu, 23 Jan 2020 19:17:37 Z)

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Did a sex trafficker lie on the road to act like their car broke down before attacking motorists who stopped to help? No, that's not true: The Hillsborough County Sheriff in Tampa, Florida, said the story is a hoax, but the viral post continues to spread online.

The claim originated from a post (archived here) published by Facebook user Cornelius King on November 19, 2019. It opened:

This Shit Happened To My Lil Brother Last Night In Tampa, Sex Trafficking Is Real, These People Lay In The Middle Of The Road And Act Like Their Car Broke Down Or Play Hurt For You To Stop. When U Get Out The Car They Attack. If Y'all See Anything Like This, Don't Hesitate To Run Their Ass Over. If U Scared Then Try Your Best To Go Around, But Whatever You Do, Don't Get Out Of Your Car, Lock Your Doors And Keep It Moving....!!!!!!!!!!!
#ProtectYourKids #AllGasNoBreaks

Screenshot of https://www.facebook.com/cornelius.king.925/posts/1182908242098472

Users on social media saw this:


The post has gained thousands of comments, shares, and engagements. King claims his younger brother witnessed the incident in Tampa, Florida.

The Tampa Bay Times has also debunked the story, reporting:

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Tampa Police are both aware of the viral post, but neither department has heard of people feigning injury in the streets to ambush concerned passersby.

The post begs several questions: how did the person who photographed the alleged incident know the person in the middle of the road was a sex trafficker? Was the photographer King's younger brother? If the victim of the thwarted attack was able to photograph the incident - and get away to tell the story - wouldn't he or she have filed a police report?

The post encourages other motorists to "Don't Hesitate To Run Their Ass Over." In other words, the user is advocating that other people commit a crime.

Lead Stories attempted to reach out to King, who posted the photos and made the claim, but did not receive a reply by the time this was published.


: Update: After this story was published, the Facebook post was removed. We have updated the story to include a screenshot of the original post.

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About the author:

Ryan Cooper.jpeg

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

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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