Are a person with dementia named "Jackson Simmons" and his dog "Cami" missing and has there been a silver alert issued for "Simmons"? No, that's not true: The story has been posted on social media as a part of a bait-and-switch scam. Such scams use fake information to encourage others to share the posts. Once the posts receive sufficient engagement, the content in the posts is edited to advertise something else, typically local real estate.
FLOOD YOUR FEEDS ~ MISSING!! In Brighton
Our Dad, Jackson Simmons aged 82 drove out last night with his dog Cami and he still hasn't returned. He doesn't know where he's going, he has dementia. There is a silver alert activated on him. Please help bump this post so we can get him home safely🙏🏻
This is how the post looked on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Aug 2 16:40:37 2023 UTC)
'Jackson Simmons' silver alert doesn't exist
Lead Stories could not find a "silver alert" issued for a person named "Jackson Simmons" in Colorado. Additionally, the state does not issue a "silver alert" when an older adult goes missing; rather, they issue what they call a Missing Senior Citizen Alert. There is no mention of a "Jackson Simmons" with a Missing Senior Citizen Alert "activated on him" on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's page on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter.
Bait-and-switch real estate scam posts
Outside of this specific instance of the "Jackson Simmons" and "Cami" post, other posts that make the claim are using a bait-and-switch scam to entice other users to share the information. Such posts are a tactic used on Facebook by spammers that employ a "bait-and-switch" to lure people into a scam. A post's creator will pair an alarming or heart-wrenching claim with a compelling image to catch people's attention -- missing children or aging adults, injured animals, injured people in hospital beds or sex trafficking tactics -- and drive engagement.
Once a post has garnered sufficient attention, the content switches to push a deceptive real estate advertisement. The wording and images of these eye-catching posts, typically seen on local Facebook "yard sale" pages," are frequently identical, even when the offered property is located in different cities, regions of the U.S. or countries.
The content switch is clearly documented by a post's edit history, which also notes additions or deletions of content. In some instances, time stamps on the posts indicate when the switches were made but on some posts, timestamps don't change even though the content does.
Here is an example of a bait-and-switch of a "Jackson Simmons" and "Cami" post. Although the post advertises real estate at the time of the writing of this fact check, a look at the post's edit history shows that it previously discussed "Jackson Simmons" and "Cami." A screenshot proving this bait-and-switch tactic is included below:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Aug 2 17:09:09 2023 UTC)
Commonly, such posts use links that lead to landing pages with disclaimers or false promises and contact information requests that can be used to gather personal data, including financial information, from people who follow the trails.
Some links purport to connect people to a U.S. Housing and Urban Development site to help them search for deals on foreclosed homes. Lead Stories found the links lead to new sites that carry disclosures at the bottom of the page that note they are "not affiliated with, endorsed, authorized, or approved by the Federal Government or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development."
Other Lead Stories fact checks
Lead Stories previously debunked a bait-and-switch claim that used the same pictures and premise as this "Jackson Simmons" and "Cami" claim. Other fact checks of bait-and-switch scams can be found here.