STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Did a female rape victing stalk her attacker and did she strip the skin of his genitals with a potato peeler? No, that's not true, and it didn't happen in Conway, South Carolina or anywhere else either. The story was made up by a recently registered fake news website imitating CBS News but it is not real.
The story originated from an article published by "CBSNews24" (not the real CBS News) on December 2, 2018 titled "Conway, SC: Female rape victim charged after stalking attacker and stripping the skin off his genitals with potato peeler" (archived here) which opened:
A 37-year old woman in Conway, South Carolina who was the victim of a rape earlier this year has been charged for a revenge attack, in which she stalked her rapist and then assaulted him with a potato peeler, stripping the skin off his genitals.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was raped by a 56-year old local man earlier this year at her home in Conway. However, the man was never charged with the rape after the woman refused to testify against him.
"We begged her to change her mind but she said she didn't want him to get locked up in prison where he would have a comfortable life," said prosecutors. Unable to bring the man before court without the victim's testimony, they reluctantly let her go.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
Conway, SC: Female rape victim charged after stalking attacker and stripping the skin off his genitals with potato peeler
A 37-year old woman in Conway, South Carolina who was the victim of a rape earlier this year has been charged for a revenge attack, in which she stalked her rapist and then assaulted him with a potato peeler, stripping the skin off his genitals.The w
The website cbsnews24.com was only registered (anonymously) on 2018-11-26 according to WHOIS information and the story seems to have been seeded initially through a now-deleted Reddit account.
The site follows the same modus operandi as a slew of earlier sites all designed to look like legitimate news sites from legitimate U.S. news and entertainment brands. Older sites we identified as being part of this network include:
The current site shares several advertising network ID codes with other sites in this network and uses the same WordPress template previously used by several other of the older sites (including the telltale misspelling of "science" as "sciens" in the footer).
Most of the websites are defunct now but they all posted made up stories which were often partially copied from other fake news websites. The sites also tended to reuse the same stories but with names and locations changed. Here at Lead Stories we expect this woman and her potato peeler to show up in other locations soon.
Also note that it would be quite unusual under U.S. law to have someone formally charged for a crime but then not be able to name them "for legal reasons".
At least one local radio station in Georgia fell for the hoax, posting it to the over 7,000 people on Facebook:
Same with the activist Creighton Leigh who shared it with 17,000 followers:
2018-12-06T08:31:18Z 2018-12-06T08:31:18ZThe story has now been posted on a second site in the network imitating an ABC News page.