It Looks Like That Viral Story About A Bride Stealing $30,000 In Wedding Donations Was Just A Marketing Stunt
A single screengrab — and a lack of Facebook reactions — were the likely giveaways.
A viral Facebook post allegedly written by a bride who canceled her $30,000 crowdfunded wedding and refused to return the money to her friends and family appears to have been fake and created as a marketing stunt to drive traffic to a new website focused on ~social media drama~.
On Monday, screenshots of the supposed Facebook post and the reactions from the bride's family were uploaded to the subreddit r/ChoosingBeggars.
In the screenshots, a bride named "Pam" announced that she and her fiancé "Edward" were canceling their Dec. 1 wedding and not returning the $30,000 in donations they had received from their family and friends.
"Don't worry, the money you've donated will not be spent in vain but rather used towards a honeymoon in the coming months," Pam wrote. "After we regain financial stability and hold calm in our hearts after a honeymoon we will announce a new wedding date and re open our money fund for any further gifts. Weddings are expensive!"
Pam goes on to say that she's updating the couple's "gift fund registry on Amazon" for vacation gifts in case anyone wants to purchase anything for their upcoming trip, and reassures her Facebook friends that the new wedding — for which she is clearly expecting more financial contributions — is going to be "a HIT."
In a follow-up comment, the original poster shared another screenshot that claimed to be reactions to the post from "Pam." They're about what you'd expect.
Although the names of the "commenters" are blurred out, they are identified by their relationship to the bride and groom for context — although not much context is needed, since everybody commenting is really angry.
The post blew up. It is currently the 14th most upvoted post of all time on r/ChoosingBeggars, where it was originally posted. The original poster's comments have thousands of upvotes.
The thread was written up by media outlets around the world.
People loved it.
Really loved it.
They demanded more content, more drama.
And the original poster promised to share an update with more comments from "Pam's" family and friends.
Here's where things start to get interesting.
Later on Monday, more screenshots of supposed comments from "Pam's" post appeared — but not on Reddit.
The new images were uploaded to the website CapturedIt.club. The homepage banner promised that the site delivered "social media drama." At the time the update went up, it was the only content on the website.
Another interesting thing? The website was brand-new. It was created Monday, the same day that the Reddit post was made.
The update included eight new screenshots of the “thread” — these, however, were all stamped with a “capturedit.club” watermark. The originals didn't have this.
It's also written as if the author has no direct connection to "Pam" and her "family."
“Immediately after the post’s popularity, the Redditor was bombarded with notifications, mostly from people dying to get an update, like this guy. We feel you, Mr. Soup-yCup!” the update read on the website, using this screenshot to show how people were hungry for more drama.
But this screenshot might've given away more than CapturedIt.club intended.
This is a screengrab of a private Reddit chat request that Soup-yCup sent to the redditor who posted the original screenshots about the alleged greedy bride. It's something only the person who made the viral Reddit post would see.
In other words, someone behind this viral social media marketing website apparently has access to the Reddit account that posted the original thread.
Still, these new and watermarked "updates" from the Saga of Pam were shared to different platforms, including Twitter, where they have been retweeted thousands of times.
Highlights from the "updated" comment thread include alleged family members vowing to sue for the return of their money.
"Pam" also has a nervous breakdown and claims to use money from the fund to pay for her emergency medical bills.
These watermarked "updates" made their way back to Reddit, and people there began to get suspicious about whether the whole thing was true. One person noticed that there were no reactions, likes, or dislikes in any of the screenshots — which seemed a little weird, given the content.
Further, there are no GoFundMe pages featuring a "Pam" or "Edward" for the purposes of a wedding. And despite the fact that "Pam" referenced an Amazon wedding registry in her first post, no registry could be located for a Pam–Edward wedding on Dec. 1 or any other date.
BuzzFeed News reached out for comment and clarification to the CapturedIt website's submissions email Tuesday morning. Soon after the request was sent, the CapturedIt website was drastically updated with a sleeker look, revamped submissions page, and a new blog post soliciting "groomzilla" stories.
According to the submissions page, CapturedIt will only accept "verifiable and compelling drama from all social media websites," and all screenshots sent in must be uncensored.
Also, apparently, there will be a podcast?
BuzzFeed News has identified the person behind this website and reached out via multiple channels.
Following the publication of this story, the Reddit account that made the original post was deleted and everything on the Captured It website was taken down — except the homepage, which now features a grinning emoji and the caption, "BEN HOBBS PRANKSTERS."
Ben Hobbs is not the name of the individual BuzzFeed News identified as the person running capturedit.club.