On February 4 2021, a screenshot of a purported news article (“GME frenzy claims first life as 28yo retail trader shoots himself in Florida”) spread on Facebook and Reddit, appearing to report the death of a man named Jake McGuirrey of Pebble Beach, Florida in the aftermath of GameStop ($GME)’s rise and fall:
The screenshot — which suspiciously lacked any indicator of an originating news outlet — read in part:
Jake McGuirrey, a resident of Pebble Creek, Florida has succumbed to a self-inflicted wound from a gunshot on Thursday morning (February 4 2021) after suffering a loss of more than $187,000 that he invested in GameStop ($GME) shares, authorities say.
Tampa Police Department spokesman Brian Dugan confirmed that first responders found the software engineer unconscious in his apartment after receiving a call from a neighbour.
Dugan added that a suicide note was found next to McGuirrey, where he described his financial situation, and that his family requested the note be published to prevent other people from “taking their lifes because of bad trading decisions”.
In that excerpt, non-standard spelling was used for the word “neighbor,” and grammatical errors (“taking their lifes”) appeared. Although the screenshot bore no indication it reflected real news and also contained a number of extremely basic errors (for example, Brian Dugan is Tampa’s police chief, not a “department spokesman”; the only hits the name “Jake McGuirrey” turns up in a web search are either this story or people talking about it; the name first appears on 4chan), a number of social media users still shared it as an cautionary tale highlighting the risks of uninformed trading:
I’ve seen all kinda “buy gme, amc, doge” on my timeline
It’s cute and funny for people who know little about trading and investing, and who ain’t putting much at risk
People can be impressionable though, for all you know you’re influencing someone’s fomo to take a dumb trade and then the result can be this
Screenshots of a non-existent article titled “GME frenzy claims first life as 28yo retail trader shoots himself in Florida,” falsely reporting the $GME-related death of a “Jake McGuirrey” continued circulating on social media as part of “meme stock” related discourse. It wasn’t clear where the screenshot originated, but it appeared to have been fabricated by unknown parties around February 4 2021.