Brad Paisley Helps Police Put Cancer Hoaxer Who Catfished Many in Jail
Brad Paisley made it his mission to track down the woman who fooled him, his wife and possibly two dozen others into thinking she was a little girl dying of cancer. And he succeeded.
Hope Jackson was the perpetrator of the catfish hoax, uncovered over the span of a year.
ABC’s ‘Nightline’ aired an interview with the 37-year-old Wyoming woman on Wednesday night (Nov. 6). She is now out on parole after serving time for theft of services. Over the span of several weeks in late 2012, Jackson convinced Paisley’s wife — actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley — that her little girl had neuroblastoma and it was her dream to talk to the actress before she died.
The emotional story hooked Williams-Paisley, and eventually her husband, too. Emails, phone calls and pictures of actual sick children who had died of cancer, swiped from tribute websites, were all used to keep up the ruse.
Things began to unravel after the Paisleys received word that “Claire” had died. The couple wanted to send flowers, but “Carrie” told them to just send a donation to the local children’s hospital instead. This is, of course, after she asked for a photo of the famous couple to include in the casket.
“I watched my wife buckle when she realized this wasn’t a real girl,” Paisley admitted in the serious interview about being catfished. “It’s sort of like emotional terrorism.”
Members of Little Big Town, Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, reality star Kate Gosselin and ‘Wipeout’ host John Henson were among the others fooled by a similar story by the same woman. An in-depth chronicling of events can be found here. The short story is that investigators used GPS data embedded in pictures to track her down at a Wyoming motel. Jackson fessed up quickly, but no one thought she’d done anything illegal.
However, asking the famous country singer to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to her daughter on the phone put her away. She never requested money, but that performance by Paisley had value — enough to result in felony charges. During an emotional interview on the ABC program, Jackson said she wouldn’t try to catfish anyone else again.
“I hope this brings some sort of healing,” she says. Although, it’s doubtful anyone believes her.