At least two country stars have been victimized on social media by fake pages asking fans to donate money to a woman reportedly battling cancer.
Nashville's News 2 learned of the page on Facebook by viewer David Sumner, whose wife has been cancer free for seven years.
Upon clicking on the fake Facebook page, a photo of Julianne Hough has been set as the profile picture, and a status update that appears to have been written by the star says, “Just a little reminder. Is there anyone who wants to donate to this beautiful woman? She's a single mother who's currently fighting cancer for the second time!”
A link in the status directs users to another Facebook page titled “Help Aimee fight cancer,” where visitors are then directed to a Web site called YouCaring.com for people to donate to the alleged cancer victim with a credit card or via Pay Pal.
You Caring states it is “a simple, free online platform created for people who want to fundraise for causes they care about. From medical expenses, to memorials and mission trips or even pet care — if it's important to you, it qualifies you to set up a free online fundraiser.”
Nashville's News 2 Investigates contacted YouCaring.com and was told the Web site has more than 14,000 active fundraisers, and they aren't able to investigate each fundraiser to make sure it is legitimate.
“We recommend that our donors only give to causes they know are legitimate because they trust the organizer. Also, we have a very active donor base that lets us know if something looks fishy. We will investigate any causes that are brought to our attention,” a YouCaring.com employee said in an email.
Nashville's News 2 Investigates asked Hough's representatives based out of Los Angeles if the star knew about the authentic-looking Facebook page seeking donations for the woman reportedly battling cancer.
Representatives said Hough was unaware of the Facebook page and released a statement saying, “Julianne is not affiliated with this in any way and we are taking measures to ensure that whoever is behind it, ceases to use her name or image in such an egregious manner.”
Sumner, the viewer who alerted Nashville's News 2, stated he is deeply disturbed by anyone who would create a fraudulent Web site to solicit donations.
“It really stirred up a hornets nest inside me,” he said. “Our priest tells us to do what is right, and this is a perfect opportunity to do that. It's always great to give, but know who you are giving to.”
Sumner added he has seen identical information soliciting donations for Aimee on country singer Kellie Pickler's Facebook page.
Nashville's News 2 Investigates also reached out to Pickler's representatives, who have been unable to comment on the false Facebook page.
In a video posted on YouTube last May, however, Pickler shows a fake Facebook account using her name that she did not authorize.
Nashville's News 2 attempted to reach out to anyone linked through the fake pages, but have been unsuccessful.
Facebook also has security measures in place for users, including an accounts verified logo, which is used on well-known public figures' pages and pages with large followings.
False accounts can be reported by clicking here.