A fake story alleges that a non-existent "Democrat Senator" -- and using a photo of a real U.S. senator -- was "caught with a dead prostitute. Lead Stories' Trendolizer system detected the scurrilous hoax, published by a known "satire site," as trending on social platforms early Wednesday.
The fake scandal's villain is identified as Sen. Paul Staubber, purportedly a Delaware Democrat, but a quick check of the senate membership shows there is no such lawmaker. The photo used to illustrate the story is of an actual sitting member, U.S. Sen. Robert "Bob" Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey. It begins with this:
Democrat Senator Paul Staubber (D-DE) was already in hot water and under investigation for running a Ponzi scheme when he was found asleep in a bed in a hotel in Atlantic City spooning a dead prostitute. The girl's death was ruled an overdose.
Staubber's office had little to say other than the senator is an adult, divorced man who is free to engage in consensual sex. They say the woman, identified as Candy Kane, 19, wouldn't have considered the senator a customer and never took a dime from him. Police who know her say she was never under suspicion for prostitution when she was seen with the senator.
The story was first posted on "The Resistance: The Last Line of Defense," which is a fake news website that carries following disclaimer on its about page:
DISCLAIMER: The Resistance may include information from sources that may or may not be reliable and facts that don't necessarily exist. All articles should be considered satirical and any and all quotes attributed to actual people complete and total baloney. Pictures that represent actual people should be considered altered and not in any way real.
The site also tends to include nonsensical phrases or insults hints in the list of "categories" under the article titles:
According to Buzzfeed the site was originally meant to troll conservatives with over the top satirical articles but now appears to be used as a 'source' by a large network of actual fake news sites (not related to the original creator) that all repost the same articles mentioning it as the source but not acknowlediging the satire disclaimer. This causes many people to believe the fake stories especially when they are being shared on social media where all context is removed and only the title, image and description remain. Sites in the network appear to include:
- American News
- Conservative Info corner
- Conservative Army
- Open Magazines
- True Trumpers
- Blue Vision News
- Conservative Flash News
- Red Country
Meanwhile the story is being shared around widely as you can see in the Trendolizer graph at the end of this article. If you notice anyone spreading the rumor around you can help by pointing them to this article here because nobody likes fake news.