What really happened?

Earlier this month, Helen* found a cat in the street. It had been visibly neglected and had no collar or microchip, so she handed it in to the RSPCA.

Shortly afterwards, footage of Helen picking up the cat began to circulate online accompanied by text accusing her of being an international cat thief, stealing pet cats for an underground dog fighting ring.

This post went viral. The threats to Helen's life began not long afterwards...

Helen contacted the police and was easily able to prove that the allegations were false by showing them her reference number for the RSPCA callout. Unfortunately, by the time she was aware of what was happening, the spread of the hoax across the internet had become impossible to stop.


* (The victim of the hoax has asked for her real name not to be published on this website. Helen of Skofde is the patron saint of falsely accused people.)

Who is responsible?

It's still unclear what motivated the hoaxer, but it doesn't appear to be an innocent misunderstanding. If somebody genuinely believed they had caught a cat thief in the act, they would have contacted the police. West Midlands Police and the Neighbourhood Watch have confirmed that during the time period in question no cats were reported stolen in Erdington and no reports were made of cat thieves caught in the act.

The hoaxer may have wanted to frighten local cat owners. They may have wanted to promote racism. (The hoax posts lied about Helen's ethnicity.) They may have been motivated by a personal vendetta against Helen, although this is difficult to believe for those who know her. It may even have been some sick person's idea of a prank. Whatever their intentions, it has caused real harm to Helen and unnecessary distress to many other local residents.

Harrassment is a serious crime and is punishable by up to ten years in prison. If you have any information about the person who started the rumours, then you should...


How can I help?

Here are some ways you can support Helen...

Don't share fake news

If you are still in any doubt as to Helen's innocence, DON'T spread the hoax further. Instead CONTACT THE POLICE who will confirm that it's a hoax.

Remove the hoaxer's posters

If you see posters around Birmingham accusing Helen of theft or animal abuse, please take them down or write on the poster so that people can learn the truth.

Report the posts

If you see posts online spreading the hoax, comment to let the person know that it's not true and then use the Report button to have the post removed as false information.

Donate to charity

You can donate to Victim Support UK, a charity which helps people like Helen who have been victims of crime or to the RSPCA, the charity who are currently looking after the cat that Helen rescued.