When people catfish, we usually are curious as to why they want to gain someone else’s attention by pretending to be someone they aren’t. We see this on an everyday basis on dating websites, where people are catfished so that they are tricked into either sending someone inappropriate pictures or money. However, it is even crazier when someone catfishes with the sole purpose of gaining attention from celebrities.
Hope Jackson has catfished numerous celebrities, including Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Little Big Town, John Henson (Wipeout Host), Kate Gosselin, Johnny Depp, Mandisa, gospel singer Carmen Hope Thomas, and other celebrities were all scammed into believing that Hope Jackson’s child was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Sometimes she even made them believe that she was the one with cancer. The reality is, she was just a normal middle-aged woman who was broke, alone, and had no children.
How Did Hope Jackson Fool These Celebrities?
Most of the time, she would send these people emails saying how she and her daughter were a fan of their music, and that they helped her get through her child dying right in front of her due to her cancer. This pulled on their emotional heartstrings, and they felt like they had to be there for their fan’s daughter who was going through this.
She would send her fans pictures of her “daughter” by stealing pictures of other mom’s sick daughters and claiming them as her own. She also sent pictures of fake letters from her daughter written on pieces of notebook paper with a crayon. She made this scheme so believable that it made it near impossible for celebrities to question if it was real or not. Any time someone questioned it, they would tell themselves, “of course it’s real,” and feel bad for doubting Jackson’s story.
She would also talk to many of these celebrities as both herself and would also talk in a little girl’s voice pretending to be her daughter. This would allow celebrities to think that this scheme is real, even though Grant thought the voice sounded off. However, she kept thinking to herself that this has to be real since it was too horrific of a story to make up.
Jackson would even a text that made people feel bad for questioning her. This is a text she sent to Henson, “I am sorry if we gave you a reason to doubt. I can’t imagine someone making up something like this but then again I am not in your line of work. … I’m exhausted and emotional. I will email you the contact information for her oncologist as soon as I speak with him until then I will ask Scarlet not to contact you. I will tell her you’re busy. I need to protect her heart as well.” (ABC News) Even though Henson received this message, he still found the fact that she couldn’t give him information regarding her daughter’s doctor care sketchy.
This scheme seemed so real, that celebrities did so many things to honor her. Brad Paisley sang “Amazing Grace” to her just days before she was supposed to die, which left him and his wife heartbroken. She even told Kimberly Williams-Paisley, that her movie Christmas Shoes gave her daughter hope. She communicated with Jackson over the phone and email. She thought in the back of her mind maybe this could be a hoax, but it was completely trumped by emotion.
Kate Gosselin dedicated an episode of her show Jon & Kate Plus 8 to Jackson, thinking that Jackson had died of cancer. In the credits, it read “In Loving Memory of Hope”. She had no idea this wasn’t real until someone reached out to her. Once she found out, she was in total shock.
How Did They Prove That They Were Being Catfished?
When Henson became suspicious of Jackson, he went to his family friend who happened to be a private investigator. The investigator found the same photos that Jackson had used in her emails on memorial websites, proving her to be a fraud.
They then tracked the IP address on these emails to track down Jackson and found her in Douglas, Wyoming at Hotel LaBonte. They called the local sheriff to pay a visit to Hope Jackson, and she was arrested on the spot.
Now you’re probably wondering how she was able to be arrested if the acts of catfishing and using other people’s photos aren’t against the law. Catfishing is only against the law if you take something worth value of someone else as the other person the catfish is trying to portray.
In this case, Jackson was caught using her catfish persona to steal live music from Brad Paisley. When Paisley sang “Amazing Grace”, he meant for it to only go to the little girl with cancer. Since Jackson was lying, she was convicted for stealing a live phone performance worth around $5,000 in value. This was enough to charge her with felony theft of services.
Jackson had catfished these celebrities for 4-5 years before she was caught. This just goes to show that not everyone on the internet is who they say they are, and that you should always do your research before continuing on your relationship with this person. It is always important to reverse search this person’s email address, name, phone number, and pictures to make sure their information is accurate.