Brad Paisley has the world at his fingertips, thanks to his successful country music career, and his good fortune has often inspired him to try to help others in need.
Sadly, it’s that kind spirit that opened him up to a cyber hoax.
Brad and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, revealed to Nightline that they became the victims hoax after first receiving an email from a woman purporting to be a mother raising a child with fatal neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer that affects the nerve tissue.
"She said that her daughter had begged her to get in touch with me," said Kimberly, who added that the mother conceded she’d forgotten about her daughter’s request for a period of time, because of the day-to-day stress of dealing with her child’s disease.
"So it sounded very sort of real," said the actress. "But she wasn't dying to get a hold of me. You know, that was kind of the beginning of the manipulation"
Soon, Brad and Kimberly were speaking to the family on the phone, exchanging emails and photos, and recording songs for the girl her mother called Claire.
"You're singing to someone's dying kid," Brad explained. "And in the middle of it, there's no way that's not real. How can that not be real?
However, when the mother announced that her daughter had died, Kimberly attempted to send flowers, which is when things took a turn for the strange.
The mother declined Kimberly’s offer, responding, "I don't need you to pray for me. Doesn't seem like god hears much of anything these days."
"I had a physical reaction," said Kimberly. "Every red flag went up that I couldn't ask a simple question."
It turns out her instincts were right — the woman was scamming not only the Paisleys, but Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, members of Little Big Town, Kate Gosselin, Natalie Grant, Carmen Hope Thomas, and others, all while using photos of a real neuroblastoma patient she’d found online.
"That's the sickest part about this to me," said Brad. "That is the part that when I start to talk about that, that's when I get really mad. That there were real kids, that there were real photos involved."
Source: ABC News