San Diego Couple Falls Prey to Facebook Death Hoax

Using social media to trick people

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A San Diego couple panicked after falling prey to a hoax on Facebook. Someone had hacked a family member's account and posted that close relatives had been found dead from a gas leak in their home. NBC 7's Consumer Bob reports.

    San Diego couple Claire and Joel Ladrido were in a panic. They had just learned that Joel's sister and her husband were found dead from a gas leak in their home. The tragic news was on their Facebook page.

    "He's on the phone with 911 on one cell phone and on my cell phone he was calling family from the Philippines, from Guam, from Hawaii," said Claire.

    She drove while Joel made the calls. 

    Joel worried that his parents would find out. So as they drove to his sister's house, he wondered how he could tell his relatives. When they arrived at the home, there were six police cars and a fire truck which were responding the Joel's 911 call.

    But then Joel's phone began to ring and he was shocked.

    "It was my sister," said Joel. "At that point I'm just, 'Are you OK? Where are you?'"

    They were away at dinner. But while they were gone, someone had posted on Facebook that they were dead.

    Joel had tried to call them when he first heard the news, but one phone went to voicemail and another never answered.

    There was no response to his text messages. By the time he arrived at their home, Joel truly believed they were dead.

    "I don't typically cry," said Joel. "But I just completely broke down.  It was hard to handle my emotions."

    So where did the message come from?

    A message that gave a time of death, a cause of death, even told family member to contact the Medical Examiner and make burial arrangements? Nobody knows.

    It could be part of a cyber hoax on social media websites like Facebook. No matter the source of the fake status update, the grief is caused for the Ladridos was very real.

    "Unfortunately there are people out there who get a kick out of stressing people out," said Claire.