A hoax story shared by Crime Library Singapore on Facebook had been making waves all over the Internet on multiple social media platforms.

In fact, the story was so risible and preposterous that not a single Singaporeans who came across the post questioned the legitimacy of the article while some commented on the post and shared it without any doubts of the story’s authenticity. Alas, they were not the only ones.

The misleading posts, like this one published March 10, 2019 by a page called “The Zambian Observer” contain an image with two photos side-by-side: one of a grey-haired man in a suit, and one of a grey-haired woman.

The story originated from an article published on March 4, 2019 titled “Man faked being deaf and dumb for 62 years to avoid listening to his wife” (now archived here).

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes Canadian entertainment website World News Daily Report (WNDR) as “a website that publishes hoaxes and made-up stories that are often widely shared and mistaken for news”.

WNDR often steals real images from legitimate news websites and attributes them to fake stories involving weird crimes, bizarre news or strange incidences. On 20 March 2019, the site even added a new slogan to its header, “Where facts don’t matter” in order to clarify to visitors that their content is entirely fictional.

WNDR even stated in a disclaimer on its site that it assumes “all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content”.

The WNDR article in question had already been rated false by fact-checking sites Snopes, Hoax Alert, AFP Factcheck, and more.

However, a Google reverse image search found that the photo of the elderly couple used in the story was none other than the mirror-image version of a photograph credited to Lannis Waters of The Palm Beach Post, a local newspaper in Florida.

The accompanying article published on July 13, 2017 was of an actual wealthy couple, Burt and Lucille Handelsman who went through a high-profile divorce after 67 years of marriage, but not because of faked deafness.

This goes to show that we should always be more aware and cautious when reading any stories online or on social media before sharing them around, as fake news and rumours are becoming more rampant and realistic than before.

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