On January 26 2022, an Imgur account shared screenshots of a purported news article with the headline, “Mississippi Woman Charged After Jail Receives Forged Fax Ordering Release Of Her Incarcerated Boyfriend”:
We couldn’t help but notice the post’s visual similarities to content from the “satirical” news site World News Daily Report, which is known for publishing outrageous and wholly fabricated content for social media shares. A handful of the viral World News Daily Report (or WNDR) items we have examined include the following:
Oftentimes, World News Daily Report items circulated in screenshot format — resembling real news sites, and obscuring their origin on a site known for spreading falsehoods. However, a search of contemporaneous news reports returned legitimate articles covering the story.
On January 24 2022, WLOX reported:
A woman is in jail for allegedly trying to get her boyfriend out of jail.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Department arrested Stephanie House, accusing her of forging a fax with a Lee County Circuit Court I.D. and sending it to the Lee County Adult Jail.
The fax ordered for her inmate boyfriend to be released.
On January 21 2022, WCBI published an item about the events leading up to the woman’s arrest:
Jail staff recognize some irregularities with the fax and was informed by the Lee County Circuit Court that they never sent a release order for the inmate.
The fax was sent on January 11th .
House is in the Lee County Jail and is charged with Uttering a Forgery.
The Imgur user linked to a Miami Herald article, published on January 24 2022, which reported:
Stephanie House, 28, of Tupelo was arrested and charged with forgery on Thursday, Jan. 20 , after authorities said she sent fake sentencing documents ordering her boyfriend’s release, according to The Daily Journal, citing the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.
The sheriff’s office stepped in to investigate after the court said it hadn’t sent the request. After some more digging, investigators “discovered the fax number used to send the document belonged to Lee County Circuit Court,” the release says. But the number had been “spoofed,” according to investigators, and the fax hadn’t been sent from the circuit court either.
An Imgur screenshot of a news article, “Mississippi Woman Charged After Jail Receives Forged Fax Ordering Release Of Her Incarcerated Boyfriend,” initially looked similar to the work of a well-known “fake news” site. Although the story in question was not widely reported, it was real. News reports indicated a Mississippi woman was arrested in January 2022 and charged with “uttering a forgery,” after she allegedly composed a phony document in an attempt to liberate her boyfriend from prison.