A Facebook post warning people about a serial killer on the loose in Dundee is false and appears to be part of a wider hoax.
The post says: “There's a serial killer or abductor who is currently hunting in Dundee, my friend was almost taken by him. He drives a truck with led lights and hits cars of women alone and once they pull over he takes them. Multiple disappearances. If you are in the area and you are hit by a truck with led lights keep driving and call the cops. Stay safe.”
The post is accompanied by a photograph of a man that appears to have been taken in a police custody suite.
We have found multiple posts from recent weeks featuring the same picture and almost identical wording claiming the incident took place in a variety of locations across the UK including Telford in Shropshire and Newbury in Berkshire, mostly on pages belonging to community marketplaces or residential associations.
We have also found multiple examples of the same post from cities across North America including Sacramento, Atlanta and Winnipeg in Canada. Australian fact checkers have also debunked Australian versions of the post.
We have also seen a number of posts using similar text but different photographs.
A spokesperson for Police Scotland told Full Fact that: “We have no trace of any deaths in Dundee under that information.”
The man in the Dundee photograph has been identified as an individual from Tennessee who had recently been sought by officers from the Dickson County Sheriff's office for leaving an inmate work crew, but was later detained. The man was not being sought in connection with multiple murders or abductions.
The sheriff’s office issued a statement on its own Facebook page saying: “It has come to our attention that there are numerous posts circulating on Facebook claiming the man below is a serial killer or abductor hunting in Dickson County, with the back story of a friend almost being a victim. This is false! This is a real booking photo and this subject is in custody, but for unrelated charges.”
A common feature with many of these posts is that they originate from Facebook users based in Zimbabwe, as noted by fact checkers from Africa Check.
In some cases, multiple posts have been made from the same account, as noted by officers from the Moline Police Department, based in the US state of Illinois.
Reliable, up-to-date information about people wanted for crimes can be found through the websites or social media pages of local police forces.
Image courtesy of Kyle Bushnell