Did a routine traffic stop in Florence, South Carolina (or anywhere else) end with officers discovering a bag of human (or whale) penises in the trunk of a car? No, that's not true: the story was pushed by the latest in a long string of websites pretending to be official U.S. news outlets but which only push made up stories to earn money through advertising. The story is not real.
The story originated from an article published by "NBC News 6" (not the real NBC News) on December 18, 2018 titled "Florence, SC: Routine traffic stop ends with officers discovering bag of human penises in man's car" (archived here) which opened:
Highway patrol officers in Florence, South Carolina have made an unusual discovery during a routine traffic stop: A 53-year old man was pulled over and a bag full of whale penises was found inside his car.
"He was sweating profusely and grinding his teeth together," said one of the officers who made the discovery. "I asked him to step out of the vehicle and place his hands on the roof. He did that, but he kept glancing in the direction of the trunk."
Officers noticed a vehicle with a damaged tail light early yesterday morning, but were not prepared for what was to follow after they pulled over the driver. Upon approaching the vehicle, they observed that the single male occupant was exhibiting signs of nervousness.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so it would have looked quote realistic to them:
Highway patrol officers in Florence, South Carolina have made an unusual discovery during a routine traffic stop: A 53-year old man was pulled over and a bag full of whale penises was found inside his car."He was sweating profusely and grinding his t
However the website was only registered a few weeks ago and has nothing to do with the real NBC News:
The site is part of a larger network of sites all designed to look like news sites from real 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.
Stories published by the network are often copied or inspired by older hoaxes from other satire or fake news sites but the quality of the writing is usually markedly better. The setting of the events is often some small town somewhere in the United States and in many cases the main illustration used is a picture found on the internet showing a police car from the local police force or a sign with the town's name on it. The same story is often re-used by changing the location and/or names of the people involved.
The mugshot used to illustrate the story has been floating around the internet since at least 2013:
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