Facebook posts claiming man with dementia is missing with his dog are false

23 November 2022
What was claimed

Help is being sought to find a missing father named ‘Gerald’ who has dementia.

Our verdict

False. The man pictured in the posts is not named Gerald and has not gone missing.

A series of posts in Facebook community groups claiming to seek help in finding a missing, 79-year-old man with dementia named Gerald in various UK locations are false. The picture has been lifted from an almost five-year-old viral news story about a man sending texts to his daughter about her dog.

One such post which appeared in a group for buying and selling in Liverpool on 16 November says: “URGENT- MISSING! This is the most recent picture of my Dad, Gerald (79),who drove out yesterday around 5:30 pm from Liverpool.”

The post goes on to explain that the man is a dementia patient and confused about where he lives. It adds “There is a silver alert activated already. Please help us get him home safely and quickly, he went along with his best friend, our dog, Cami.”

A photograph accompanying the post shows a man sitting on a sofa next to a large dog. 

We have found identical posts in Facebook groups for Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire. In some cases the post has been uploaded to groups for multiple locations, such as Newcastle and Southend, by the same Facebook account. 

The same post also appears in community groups in other countries including Ireland and the United States. The posts are identical except for the location the missing man is supposed to have last been seen. 

The posts appear to have originated in the US as they make a reference to a “silver alert”—a way of notifying the public about missing vulnerable people, for example those who are elderly or have dementia and other conditions—that only operates there. The post also says the man has no “cell phone” on him.

Using a reverse image search, we traced the picture used in the posts back to a 2017 report from ABC News about a father called Larry, not Gerald, whose texts to his daughter while looking after her dog went viral.

The photographs in the post are taken directly from images released by the man’s daughter around the time of the story. 

We have written before about posts that claim to be seeking assistance with finding abandoned babies or identifying people who have been in accidents. 

We have also written about other posts that falsely claim to be seeking help in finding missing relatives and other elderly people

Image courtesy of David Rangel

Correction 9 August 2023

This article has been corrected to clarify who silver alerts apply to.

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