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Brad Paisley, wife Kimberly among victims of 'dying daughter' hoax

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Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT Photo: Video by YouTube

Brad Paisley, wife Kimberly among victims of 'dying daughter' hoax

By Stephen L. Betts. CREATED Nov 7, 2013

On Wednesday night, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood were making the country laugh as hosts of the CMA Awards on ABC. But later that night, on the same network, Brad and his wife, "Nashville" star Kimberly Williams-Paisley, weren't laughing when they shared with the network's "Nightline" news program that they had been the victims of an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a woman who claimed she had a young daughter dying of cancer. 

According to ABC News, the hoax began with an email sent to Kimberly by a total stranger, a mother who said her daughter was dying of a neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer that is often fatal."She said that her daughter had begged her to get in touch with me," Kimberly said. "It sounded very sort of real."

Kimberly and the mother sent dozens of emails, phone calls and texts back and forth over the next 10 days and the actress even received photos of the girl, named Claire, along with pictures of journal entries and recordings of songs the girl had supposedly sung for Kimberly. Brad even got on the phone and sang "Amazing Grace" to the girl. "You're singing to someone's dying kid," Brad said. "And in the middle of it, there's no way that's not real. How can that not be real?"

However, when the mother informed Kimberly that "Claire" had died, yet would not provide an address where she could send flowers for the funeral, Kimberly became suspicious, and rightly so. The photos of the sick girl were taken from the blog of a real girl in California who had neuroblastoma.

"That's the sickest part about this to me," Brad said. "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."

The perpetrator of the scam, Hope Jackson, was arrested in Douglas, Wyo., on a charge of theft of services, a result of Brad's having sung over the phone under false pretenses. 

Other celebrities taken in by the scam included Brad's fellow country artists Little Big Town, "Wipeout" host Jon Henson, reality-TV star Kate Gosselin and singer Mandisa. See the complete story here.

Stephen L. Betts

Stephen L. Betts

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Stephen L. Betts ("Steve") is a Nashville-based journalist who started his career as a tour guide, karaoke operator and library assistant at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.