Fraudsters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman dupe Washington Post with fake FBI raid, Internet calls it embarrassing

The Washington Post had to issue a clarification in an Editor’s Note that said, “After initial publication of this story, additional reporting indicates that the raid was staged. The story will continue to be updated”


                            Fraudsters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman dupe Washington Post with fake FBI raid, Internet calls it embarrassing
Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl (Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, September 14, saw the Washington Post face some embarrassment. The newspaper reported on an FBI raid on conservative lobbyist and conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman. The Washington Post quoted Burkman saying that his home had been raided by FBI agents, who reportedly took phones, computers, and documents in connection to a coming press conference.

“We’re not going to be intimidated,” Burkman told the newspaper. His associate, the far-right conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl told the newspaper that the agents took computers, papers, and cellphones. Hours after the story was published, everything unraveled as a hoax. 

The FBI’s Washington Field Office on Monday afternoon released a statement saying it had not conducted any law enforcement activity earlier in the day at Burkman’s home. A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office said the office “was not present at the specified location for law enforcement activity.” 

The Daily Beast reported that a Virginia man called Tommy Abraham, who responded to a Craigslist ad seeking actors to play FBI agents for a television pilot, came forward to say that he’d been roped into the hoax orchestrated by Burkman and Wohl. Abraham told The Daily Beast in an interview on Monday that the Craigslist ad offered $400 cash payments to white male actors who agreed to don FBI badges and windbreakers and film a series of scenes at Burkman’s home in Arlington, Virginia. 

Abraham said that he and a handful of others who responded to the ad arrived at Burkman’s home before dawn on Monday, and were filmed acting out an FBI raid there. Abraham supplied The Daily Beast with documentary evidence to back up his assertions, including emails from an address bearing the name of a company Wohl once ran.

Abraham said that they were told after the shoot that they couldn’t be paid in cash, and were asked to email their full names and home addresses to Burkman so that he could mail them checks.

The website reported further that a person going by the name Bev Donahue sent a series of photos and video clips of the supposed raid to reporters, and shared them on an eponymous twitter account created in August, adding that there is evidence that Donahue is Wohl himself. The Twitter account is allegedly associated with an email address beginning with “ja” and a cell phone number that, like Wohl’s, ends with the digits 91.

While the hoax has been debunked, The Washington Post had to issue a clarification. In an Editor’s Note, the newspaper said, “After initial publication of this story, additional reporting indicates that the raid was staged. The story will continue to be updated.”

The newspaper further wrote, “Burkman and Wohl have publicized baseless, inflammatory sexual assault allegations against former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, among others. Several people have claimed the pair paid them to concoct those accusations.”

But on social media, the paper still faced the disdain of the public. “The Washington Post got tricked by Jacob Wohl. This should be their last day in business. Embarrassment of this level doesn’t wash off,” wrote music video producer and director Robby Starbuck. Wohl’s father, David Wohl, tweeted, “Whoa. If true, the @washingtonpost should liquidate assets and cease operations.” One Twitter user wrote, “Haha. Jacob Wohl and company staged a half baked 'FBI Raid' and the @washingtonpost and half of twitter dot com fell for it. Don’t ever go full Wohl.” “The @WashingtonPost just published a story based entirely on the word of Jacob Wohl and his idiotic fellow conspiracy theorist Jack Burkman. This is extremely depressing. And it will be extremely embarrassing for WaPo,” wrote another Twitter user.



 

 



 

 



 



 

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