Fact check: Chain of posts about a man with a knife going door-to-door is a hoax

·3 min read

The claim: A dangerous man is going door-to-door in various cities asking for money

More than 20 versions of the same basic claim have been circulating in an array of Facebook groups. They claim a dangerous man is going door-to-door asking for money.

Each caption is nearly identical, except for the name of the city where the man purportedly is: Melbourne, Florida; Franklin County, Missouri; Charleston, South Carolina; and Springfield, Massachusetts.

The photo attached to each of the posts shows a man with a beard walking down a street in a red and grey zip-up jacket and tan shorts. The caption says the man has an accent, is wielding a knife, previously attacked three teens and is wanted by police.

The posts have accumulated hundreds of shares.

All of these iterations are hoaxes.

Police departments from several of the cities where the hoax surfaced released public statements or told USA TODAY there is no truth to these claims. USA TODAY found no credible reports of a man matching this description wanted by police in any of the areas mentioned.

USA TODAY reached out to several social media users who shared the posts for comment.

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Several police departments confirm there is no truth to these posts

This is the latest iteration of a social media phenomenon in which users post that the same noteworthy event is occurring in several places across the country. USA TODAY has debunked other examples, including the claim that someone abandoned a baby on a doorstep and a woman stole a baby from a hospital.

After the man-with-a-knife posts started surfacing, some police departments debunked the hoax on social media.

“This post appears to be a hoax. At this time, we have no reason to believe that this is a legitimate threat,” the Council Bluffs Police Department said in a Twitter post.

“THE FACEBOOK POST IN THIS SCREENSHOT IS NOT TRUE! … If something like this were true, you would be able to learn this information from local police, and local media sources,” Brandon Police Service said in a Facebook post.

The Lake Ozark Police Department also posted on Facebook that the department had not found any information confirming the legitimacy of the post. And in an emailed statement to USA TODAY, Amber Baggs, the media relations director for the San Diego County Sherriff’s Department, said the same. ​​​​​​

Fact check: Newborn abandoned in Mesa, Arizona, sparks string of false claims in other cities

In addition, USA TODAY found no credible reports from news organizations that a man matching this description was reported in connection with any suspicious activity.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a dangerous man is going door-to-door in various cities asking for money. Several police departments said these claims are a hoax, and there are no credible news reports to show the claims are true.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Posts about a dangerous man knocking on doors is a hoax