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Viral video threatens family

A local resident feels like the Mark Twain’s quote: ‘A lie can run around the world six times while the truth is still trying to put on its pants’ is especially true in his family’s case since a video of his wife and grandkids aired on an Atlanta news station and went viral worldwide, spreading misinformation about them. The video alleges the Pike County resident found a wallet, handed the money to her sons and then went on a spending spree. In reality, all the money and other items in the change purse were returned to the rightful owner. ’I just want people to know the truth,’ she said. ‘When I found the change purse, there was a gift card and a receipt on top of it and the license was in a pull out pocket. The video says I was handing out money but I handed the receipt and card to my grandson so I could look at the license. My young grandson was excited because I said we could go to Game Stop after Kohl’s.’ The family wants to clear up the story but are scared to give out too much information. The video has been posted to thousands of websites where viewers have posted nasty comments, even death threats from sites such as AK47.net. A simple Google search of ‘Woman finds wallet’ will result in more than 4.5 million videos, photos and web stories. Many of them are about Barbara and her 8- and 15-year-old grandsons. They tell only a part of the story, stating the three found a wallet, passed the money out amongst them and never returned any of the contents. The original news story even encouraged people to call police and turn them in to be arrested. Many of the webpage comments condemn the woman and even threaten her life and the young boys. ’I tried diligently to locate the young lady from Mississippi. If additional video had been shown, it would show me walking around inside Kohl’s with the wallet in my hand looking for the owner,’ said Barbara. ‘It would also show me waiting at the location where I found the wallet to see if the young girl exited or entered the store.’ The three took the missing wallet, walked out of view of the front door surveillance tape and into the store. They took the wallet to the customer service desk but hesitated to turn it in for fear workers would take the cash inside of it. Barbara called her husband, a retired fire captain, to ask him what he thought she should do with it. ’He told me to bring it home since she was out of state and he would use his contacts with the sheriff and police offices to get it back to the owner,’ she said. ‘We thought since the license said she was from out of state and under 21 that she might be a college student.’ Once home, the family searched facebook and even called in a favor to a relative to look up the owner’s phone number using information from the wallet. They called repeatedly over the next few days, expecting someone to return their call. They were excited when they heard there was a news story about a missing wallet because they were hoping to find the owner. ’My grandmother taught me that when you find something that’s not yours, you get it back to the rightful owner. That’s what we were trying to do. This has really affected these two young boys,’ said their grandfather and former fire captain. ‘Noah, who is 8, asked me if he was going to jail. He asked me why his Mimi was crying after they saw the news story.’ Noah was the one who took the wallet to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office after getting out of school. According to investigator Maj. David Neal, the wallet has since been returned to the owner. In the original news coverage which aired just days after the wallet was lost, Joseph Smith says, ‘She’s setting an example for her kids. What are they going to do the next time they see a wallet or they see somebody drop something?’ Well, the 8- and 15-year-old boys were tested on that when they found $60 cash inside Wal-Mart a few weeks after the lost wallet incident. They looked for a store security officer and when they couldn’t find one, they called the Griffin Police Department and immediately turned the money over to officer Andrew Dorsey.

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