PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio1020 KDKA) – Victoria Wilcher, 3, from Jackson, Mississippi, was mauled by her grandfather’s pit bulls, leaving her with a broken upper and lower jaw, broken nose, cheekbones and right eye socket.
After a visit to the hospital, she stopped off at Kentucky Fried Chicken with her grandmother who claimed they were asked to leave after ordering a sweet tea and mashed potatoes because Victoria’s scarred face was “disrupting the customers.”
Immediately, random strangers and even KFC began pouring out their support for the little girl over the embarrassing injustice that happened to her. The support came in the form of monetary donations totaling over $135,000 on the website GoFundMe.com.
This story would seem to have a happy ending; the young girl getting her medical bills taken care of and the love of and support of 190,000 likes on her “Victoria’s Victories” Facebook page. However, as The Daily Beast reporter, Scott Bixby wrote, “It’s a story cooked up with 11 herbs and spices.”
Bixby joined Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News to discuss the facts he found out about the incident and why people are saying now, it could never have happened and why it is becoming so popular.
“It does happen frequently where allegations have been made, particularly against large commercial enterprises, you know abuse by staff members. There was an IKEA that was accused of telling a breastfeeding woman she was disgusting, there was a waitress who said she was stiffed on a tip because she was a lesbian, and as the Internet ire rose and people spring up to fund these crowdfunding sites to use the money for a vacation, sometimes for injuries, then when people start digging a little bit and look into the details it turns out that none of these things actually happen,” Bixby said.
After a reporter went digging into the story, they found that not only is the restaurant where this alleged incident happened not been in business for years, but they could not even find people matching Victoria and her grandmother’s description on surveillance tapes from any of the KFCs in the area.
The reporter even went as far as to look up receipts from KFC and couldn’t find one that had a sweet tea and mashed potatoes on it.
How is it that so many people were so quick to believe in this story and donate money before the whole report came out? Bixby explains how so many honest people fall for hoaxes like this.
“Part of it is you know these are highly shareable. The way that this campaign started was as a Facebook group put on by the young girl’s aunt called ‘Victoria’s Victories.’ The story about her being ejected from KFC was shared 17,000 times within the first day by people who were sharing this and expressing how outraged they were. And the other part of this is it’s a group mentality of people showing off that they are so horrified by this incredibly sad thing that they are witnessing that they are going to do something about it,” Bixby said.
Scams like this to raise money for either false or exaggerated conditions have been around for years, and by the looks of it, don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. So, what’s the best way to avoid them?
“Keep a skeptical mind about yourself because the first thing a con artist is going to do is they are going to target your sense of humanity and your sense of compassion,” Bixby said.
You can listen to the whole interview with Scott Bixby here: