‘Missing’ child appeal featuring boy with a baby deer is a hoax

9 June 2023
What was claimed

A four-year-old called Jack Graham, pictured in a photo with a fawn, has gone missing and is believed to be in need of medical attention.

Our verdict

This appeal is a hoax. The picture is a photo of a child who befriended a deer during a holiday in Virginia in the US, which went viral in 2021.

A hoax appeal shared on Facebook claims that a four-year-old child called Jack Graham, pictured in the post with a fawn, has gone missing and is believed to be in need of medical attention. 

Full Fact has spotted versions of these posts in social media groups in the UK, including in Leeds and Falkirk, as well as many examples in the US and Canada

The posts all feature very similar text, which says in most of the versions we’ve seen: “Jack Graham is a 4 year old  who stands 3 feet, 5 inches and weighs 55 pounds. Graham has been missing since June 04, 2023 and is believed to be both endangered and in need of medical attention. 

“Graham was last seen in #[location]. Bump this post so that he can be reunited with his family. [sic]”

But the boy pictured in the appeal is not a missing child named Jack Graham. The photo went viral in 2021, when it was shared by a mother whose four-year-old son had befriended a fawn and brought it to a holiday home the family were staying in in Virginia, US. 

Beyond the obvious fact that the same boy cannot have gone missing in a number of different countries at the same time, another clue that the posts are fake is that the comments underneath have been disabled. Derbyshire Police has warned previously that this may indicate such posts are hoaxes, as people genuinely looking for information are unlikely to turn off comments.

We regularly see similar posts claiming to be missing person alerts for elderly people, or from people who claim that they are searching for their birth parents or have found a  lost dog. We have seen these posts being edited later to offer cheap housing, links to surveys or other freebies. 

This behaviour means that local groups may become overwhelmed with false information. As a result, people genuinely trying to trace relatives or look for missing people could get ignored or—perhaps worse—dismissed as false. 

We have written to Meta expressing these concerns and asking the company to take stronger action in response to this problem. 

Image courtesy of dole777

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