A video from 2015 of a businessman jumping off a high-rise hotel in Philadelphia, USA is being shared with false claims that a Italian businessman committed suicide after he lost his family to the novel coronavirus.
The video is viral on social media with a caption in Kannada which when translated to English reads, "Italian millionaire hotelier kills himself by jumping of his hotel because of grief caused by the loss of his family due to Coronavirus." It is being shared with #Coronaeffect.
(Kannada: ಇಟಲಿಯ ಕೋಟ್ಯಾಧಿಪತಿ ಹೋಟೆಲ್ ಮಾಲೀಕ, ತನ್ನ ಕುಟುಂಬದ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಸದಸ್ಯರನ್ನು ಕೊರೋನಾ ವೈರಸ್ ನಿಂದ ಕಳೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಹತಾಶನಾಗಿ ತನ್ನ ಕಟ್ಟಡದ ಮೇಲಿಂದ ಬಿದ್ದು ಆತ್ಮಹತ್ಯೆ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದು...)
The 1 minute 59 seconds video shows a street bustling with sirens and people looking at a high rise building and shouting as a person jumps off it.
The video is disturbing in nature and shows the exact moment the man jumps to his death. BOOM has decided not to include the same
A search for the caption on Facebook showed several posts sharing it with the same false claim.
BOOM looked for the video on Facebook and Twitter and found many sharing it.
The video is also being shared with a caption in Hindi claiming it shows a man jumping off his apartmen in New York, after he tested positive for COVID-19.
BOOM found that the oldest upload for the video was from 2015 and the same video had been used to peddle other false claims - of a woman from Ghana committing suicide after learning about her husband's extra marital affair and the video of a Nigerian man who jumped off a building in Indonesia, while escaping the police.
We found a longer version of the same video uploaded on a Facebook page - Ọmọ Oòdua in August 2015. While the caption in the video was false - 'Graphic: Pregnant Ghanaian Woman jumps off the Cliff', this video had visual clues that the location was Philadelphia, USA.
At 49 seconds in the video, seconds after the man jumps off the building, a vehicle can be seen with the number - 215-232-2000.
A search for the number showed that it was from Philadelphia region and belonged to a taxi on call service - PHLcabs.
We then did a Google search using keywords - Man jumps off highrise in Philadelphia and found news article from 2015 about a case from a person killed himself by jumping off the 25th floor of the Embassy Suites hotel.
An article published on May 2, 2015 in PhillyVoice a local media outlet, described the incident and a follow up article about the same published on May 6, 2015 identified the man who jumped as a businessman.
BOOM also geolocated the Embassy Suites hotel located in Center city to check if the location matched the one in the viral video. Using street-view option in Google maps on the hotel in Philadelphia, we found the exact location as in the video.
We further contacted Embassy Suites Hotel, Philadelphia who confirmed that the video was from their hotel and an employee who answered the call said, they had also seen it going around on social media recently.
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