Do the ends always justify the means? Better ask Pam and Ed

A brand launch that could only occur in the era of Trump –

There’s fake news, misinformation and disinformation. And then there’s the completely fabricated story of Crowdsourcers Pam and Ed’s upcoming wedding on December 1st. I’ll let you read the entire chain of events in the Buzzfeed story below, but here’s the gist:

  • A few weeks ago, an apparently real couple named Pam and Ed posted a crowdsourcing request on Facebook pleading poverty and asking anyone and everyone to help make their wedding dreams come true. Well, guess what? They raised some $30,000 from unsuspecting, good natured fools.
  • Then Pam suddenly announced that, after much soul searching, the couple had decided to call off the wedding. BUT Pam said the happy couple would spend their newfound $30,000 to fund a spectacular, one-of-a-kind honeymoon. Boy, doesn’t Pam sound special? Oh, and btw, Pam indicated the couple would let everyone know when the wedding would be rescheduled so they could again help crowdfund it. Talk about hubris.
  • Needless to say, the entire online world went postal and Pam’s sob story/scam became the 14th most upvoted post of all time on r/ChoosingBeggars (Gee, what an honor). The top 13 must be very special.

Anyway, turns out the entire thing was a hoax perpetrated by a new website called Capturedit.com which describes itself as a “social media drama” site that is now searching for “Groomzilla” stories to dramatize.

So I ask you: In this era of incivility, quid pro quo’s and outright lies, where does a business/marketer draw the line? Ponder these questions:

  1. Is it fair to intentionally trick people to donate $30,000 for a fictitious wedding and then drive the crowd to a frenzy by suggesting the money wouldn’t be returned?
  2. Is that the way you would launch a business?
  3. Have things become so sleazy nowadays that this is considered brilliant marketing and not something that even P.T. Barnum would find nauseating?

I can’t say, but I sure would like to know where Pam and Ed are planning to go for their honeymoon. $30,000 can buy a whole lot of paradise. 😊

# # #

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.

Last updated on November 6, 2019, at 9:48 a.m. ET

Posted on November 5, 2019, at 8:07 p.m. ET

Ljupco / Getty Images

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.

Reddit / joyeuxanniversaire1 / Via reddit.com

“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.

Reddit / joyeuxanniversaire1 / Via reddit.com

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.

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r/ChoosingBeggars / Via reddit.com

The thread was written up by media outlets around the world.

Google News

People loved it.

r/ChoosingBeggars / Via reddit.com

Really loved it.

r/ChoosingBeggars / Via reddit.com

They demanded more content, more drama.

r/ChoosingBeggars / Via reddit.com

And the original poster promised to share an update with more comments from “Pam’s” family and friends.

r/ChoosingBeggars / Via reddit.com

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.

Domain Tools / screenshot

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.

christ on a bike’s AUDACITY@wthDARIELLE

Anyway, I have a reminder set cuz the person who posted it is gonna update us with 5 pages worth of comments lmao

christ on a bike’s AUDACITY@wthDARIELLE

Updated comment section 1

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
844 people are talking about this

Highlights from the “updated” comment thread include alleged family members vowing to sue for the return of their money.

christ on a bike’s AUDACITY@wthDARIELLE

Updated comments 2: #3 is the brides explanation. She needs to get beat tf up on god

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
998 people are talking about this

“Pam” also has a nervous breakdown and claims to use money from the fund to pay for her emergency medical bills.

christ on a bike’s AUDACITY@wthDARIELLE

More to come

View image on Twitter
859 people are talking about this

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.

Amazon

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.

UPDATE

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.

One thought on “Do the ends always justify the means? Better ask Pam and Ed

  1. It’s theft! The company owners should be indicted for Grand Larceny! Just because we have con-man with no respect for the law in the White House is no license for ethics to go out the window nationally. Fuming! It’s dead wrong.

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