David Hogg (of Parkland, an actual student) and Emma Gonzalez (of New York, a 30-year-old woman who shares the name of an actual Parkland student) have both been falsely accused of being fake crisis actors. [Example]

The Wikipedia article on crisis actors talks about the original use of the term for emergency drills, but explains:

Starting around 2012, the term was appropriated by conspiracy theorists in the United States who falsely claimed that mass shootings were staged, and victims and their families were being played by actors.

This is the use of the term intended here.

Has there ever been a legitimate case of anybody seeking to exaggerate or fake a school shooting or other mass shooting by falsely posing as a victim?

  • 16
    This seems unfalsifiable. How could we ever prove that the answer is no?
    – Oddthinking
    May 9, 2018 at 1:46
  • 2
    It also seems a bit vague. Does Clare Werbeloff's ad hoc fake witness report to a TV camera about a shooting count?
    – Oddthinking
    May 9, 2018 at 1:51
  • We could answer more specific accusations of specific shootings being faked or specific people being crisis actors (eg something like this), but as-is, the question seems overly broad. I also think that your question isn't really represented in the claim. All claims about crisis actors that I have read are about a large-scale conspiracy (organized by the government, the media, etc). But you seem to (also) be asking about individuals deciding on their own to exaggerate a real shooting, which makes the question even broader.
    – tim
    May 9, 2018 at 9:33
  • 5
    @JasonR: A "conspiracy theory" does not mean it is wrong. That is begging the question. I am a conspiracy theorist when it comes to the 9/11 terrorist attacks - I believe at least 19 men linked to Al Qaeda conspired to fly four planes into buildings in the USA.
    – Oddthinking
    May 9, 2018 at 13:46
  • 2
    If we can't investigate "have their ever..." claims then we should close as "too broad", and wait for a specific claim. May 9, 2018 at 20:02

1 Answer 1


There is this claim being made by The Guardian, in a Canadian election:

Doug Ford – the frontrunner in the race to become premier of Canada’s most populous province – has admitted that hired actors posed as supporters ahead of a high-profile debate, but denied his campaign was responsible for recruiting them.

“A local candidate made a decision to engage a casting agency. This was unnecessary and a mistake. It will not happen again,” said Ford’s spokeswoman, Melissa Lantsman, in a statement on Tuesday.

It's not clear whether this meets the definition of "crisis actor", however.

  • 9
    As far as I understood, the question is specifically about the context of "school shooting or other mass shooting".
    – DevSolar
    May 9, 2018 at 12:48
  • 3
    While this does not directly address the answer, this is (IMHO) the closest thing we're going to find to an actual crisis actor using the current definition of the word.
    – DenisS
    May 9, 2018 at 14:48
  • 11
    This definitely does not answer the question. These are just actors, not crisis actors at all. May 9, 2018 at 15:41
  • 2
    You could maybe say that the politician who hired these fake supporters is going to have a bit of a crisis with his career, but I don't see how you could even remotely say that these were "crisis actors".
    – IMSoP
    May 11, 2018 at 23:47
  • 5
    I'm not sure if you're being willfully obtuse, or genuinely don't understand the term. It seems really very simple to me: people pretending to be victims or bystanders in a crisis, either legitimately to train responders, or according to the claim doing exactly the same thing to create fake news. That is the claim we're addressing.
    – IMSoP
    May 12, 2018 at 21:38

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