Kimberly Williams-Paisley and husband Brad Paisley have been lured into a sophisticated and intricate online hoax.
It all started with an email sent to the Nashville star by a mother claiming that her daughter was dying of a neuroblastoma, a form of paediatric cancer which is usually fatal.
Kimberly Williams-Paisley said about the mother who contacted her: “She said that her daughter had begged her to get in touch with me.”
She went on to say that the girl’s mother, apparently named Carrie, had forgotten about the girl’s request: “So it sounded very sort of real. But she wasn’t dying to get a hold of me. You know, that was kind of the beginning of the manipulation.”
Numerous emails, phone calls and texts were exchanged over the following week-and- a- half between Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Carrie. Photographs of the allegedly dying girl were also sent.
On top of that, pictures of journal entries by the girl, named Claire, and audio recordings of songs she had apparently sung for her favorite Nashville celebrity were sent.
Even Brad was compelled to do what he could for the dying girl and came to the phone to sing “amazing grace” to her. “You’re singing to someone’s dying kid. And in the middle of it, there’s no way that’s not real. How can that not be real?” He said.
The death hoax scam began to unravel when Claire allegedly died but Carrie would not provide a postal address for flowers to be sent for the funeral. An email was sent by Carrie saying: “I don’t need you to pray for me. Doesn’t seem like God hears much of anything these days.”
Kimberly Williams-Paisley said: “I had a physical reaction. Every red flag went up that I couldn’t ask a simple question.” It transpired, much to horror of the Williams-Paisley’s that the photos of Claire were fakes and that they had been lifted from the blog of a sick girl from California.
Brad said: “That’s the sickest part about this to me. That is the part that when I start to talk about that, that’s when I get really mad. That there were real kids, that there were real photos involved.”
The woman behind the “dying daughter” was Hope Jackson from Wyoming. It turns out that Jackson has scammed a number of other celebrities over the years sometimes posing as the sick person in the hoax.
Strangely, her hoaxes had little to do with money and more to do with getting attention, or something else. Jackson never asked for money and even returned a check she received from someone she scammed.
Jackson pleased guilty to the crimes she perpetrated against Kimberly Williams-Paisley and her husband, as well as the other hoaxes she had done, and was put on probation for a period of five years.