Police quash Facebook rumours of missing boy named Brayden

1 February 2023
What was claimed

An autistic boy named Brayden has gone missing with his dog and the police have been contacted.

Our verdict

False. None of the police forces in the areas where the posts appear have received reports of missing persons by that name.

Multiple Facebook posts claiming to be seeking help in finding an autistic boy named Brayden, who has gone missing with his dog, are fake.

The posts, which have appeared on a number of local Facebook groups across the UK, all use the same photograph of a young boy and girl sitting on a log with a dog at their feet. 

One post, which appears on a group page for landlords and tenants in northeast England, says: “HELP!!! #Hartlepool My son Brayden JOHNSON took off this morning with our dog hank. He autistic [sic] and has been missing for eight hours if anyone sees him please PM me please re-post on any sites. I already contacted police.”

Although we have not been able to trace the original photograph used in the post, Cleveland Police told us: “We do not have any missing person of that name. Any missing people appeals would go on official Cleveland Police social media pages (albeit some members of the public put their own on before police do it!)”

We found posts in other towns including Kettering (Northamptonshire) and Newmarket (Suffolk) that were almost identical to the first, including using the same images, but used different locations and surnames. Variations included Brayden Parkenson and Brayden Waltz.

Northamptonshire Police and Suffolk Constabulary both confirmed to Full Fact that none of the names matched those of people reported missing their areas. 

Earlier this month the online safety team from Derbyshire Constabulary issued a warning about scam posts and included a screenshot claiming a boy named Brayden Garple had gone missing in Normanton (West Yorkshire). This post also used the same image of two young children and a dog as the ones above.

The force said: “We've raised this subject previously, but further similar posts are still being widely shared on community pages. Please be aware of hoax posts regarding missing persons, missing pets, injured animals etc.

“If the comments are disabled, DO NOT SHARE. Once shared a number of times, the post is edited to something else, such as crypto investments or fake scam giveaways. If you shared the original post, the new scam post appears in your name too. Think. If you were trying to locate a vulnerable child, would you really disable comments?”

We’ve fact checked a number of similar fake posts shared on Facebook in recent weeks about missing children and dogs.

Image courtesy of David Gabric

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.