Child of the grift. (via Facebook)
Constructing elaborate hoaxes to win the Internet's sympathy and score a huge financial windfall in the process? That's so 2013. But apparently the family of little Victoria Wilcher is pretty retro, because their story of young Victoria being kicked out of a KFC because her scarred face was scaring customers was reportedly a total hoax.
Having made it all the way to June without a huge, entire-Internet-duping hoax to exacerbate our already crippling trust issues (Kimmel "pranks" excluded) it seemed like maybe the liars had given up. Or maybe this year's Diane in 7A attempts just never got the traction their perpetrators were gunning for. With Victoria Wilcher, it looks like we have our first big lie of the year, and it unfortunately centers around a little girl with some legitimate medical issues.
The incident that tugged at the Internet's heart-strings and inspired $135K in donations, including $30K from KFC itself, was said to have taken place at a Jackson, MS KFC store. 3-year-old Victoria was with her grandmother, and she was asked to leave the dining room because her facial scars were upsetting other diners. The scars were said to have been from an attack by her grandfather's pitbulls.
The Laurel Leader-Call is reporting that the whole thing never happened. A third-party mediator was brought in to investigate the claims, and while a report has not been completed yet, insiders say that surveillance footage does not put Victoria Wilcher, or her grandmother, Kelly Mullins, inside either of the KFC stores near the children's hospital Victoria had visited on May 15th, the date of the incident. No one matching the description of Victoria or Mullins was seen on the cameras.
Further, investigations were not even able to find record of the orders that Mullins supposedly placed at the KFC. Mullins told WAPT TV in Jackson that she had ordered "a sweet tea and mashed potatoes and gravy," which they then sat down and began eating before they were asked to leave the store. There was no record of such an order being placed.
The Leader-Call details other holes in the story, including that the location of the KFC Mullins gave in her account was a KFC that hasn't been in operation for years.
All of this points to the fact that 2014 has its first big Internet lie. KFC, for their part, says they plan to honor their $30,000 donation even if Mullins turns out to be a lying opportunist. Perhaps they realize that even if it wasn't true, this kid does need medical attention and with the family she has, she could use all the help she can get.
The Victoria's Victories Facebook page posted the following response:
On the plus side, fast food places aren't kicking out little girls because their faces were disfigured. On the minus side, a lot of people got duped into caring for another human being again. That always hurts.
Maybe we need a new religion to sprout up that's solely devoted to belief in Internet hoaxes. We all want to believe these things are true, but doing so requires the same strength of faith that we usually reserve for Gods and reality television. If you want to believe in your hoax, ignore the doubters and go for it. Have faith. (Also, don't read any follow-up articles. Ever.)
(by Bob Powers)