Jake is a Hoax. However, There are Many Real Jakes.

Last night the following message appeared on the Facebook group Mormons Building Bridges:

Hi, this is actually Jakes Mother. He recently tried to commit suicide because he got depressed from the people who treated him badly because he is gay. He has a cervical fracture, broken arm, and a broken leg. He was given rigid braces and a cervical collar plus a cast for his arm. So now he is physically hurt and mentally depressed. So me and a few others are doing a “Letter to Jake project”. If you would like to be involved you can post on this post something nice so he knows there are other people who support him and wish him well. I will then compile them in a slideshow for him. That is all. Thanks for reading and even more thanks to those who write something!

The message came for the account of Jake Christensen, the person who apparently attempted suicide. (UPDATE: The profile has been removed. Not sure whether by Facebook or by the person behind the account.)

But there does not appear to be an actual Jake. There are many Jakes (both people named Jake and gays who are bullied and abused)…but this is not one of them.

The account was started on January 3, 2014 (a month before the message appears on Mormons Building Bridges and similar Facebook groups) and kicked off with the status:

Well my friend don convinced me to get a facebook. Its pretty cool.

No person named Don ever interacts with Jake on his public FB wall. However, we are given a supposed reason for why there is no Jake Christensen on Facebook prior to the start of this year.

Only two people ever interact with Jake on his wall, Sarah Michelle and Andrew Ransom. Both appear to be Mormon LBGT advocates. And Jake’s only Facebook friends that interact with him.

By day 2 on Facebook, Jake posts a “10 things you might not know about me” status and has a generic FB discussion about woman and the priesthood with Sarah and Andrew.

January 7:

Today was not a good day. Breaking up is no fun. I think I will just go crawl into the corner of my room and do nothing.

January 8:

I am giving a sincere thanks and goodbye to everyone here. You guys were nice to me and tried to help but I am DONE with people telling me who and what I should do. I don’t need missionaries to tell me my path or my bishop. I don’t need random strangers on facebook. I am done with this crap social media stuff. I am done with this ridiculous messed up church with different opinions. I am no longer listening to anyone. I am going to make my decisions of what I will and will not do. I don’t need anybody. I am off and finished with this ridiculousness. Its my life and my choices. I am going to do what I feel is right for me. Nobody can tell me how to live my life. Its over and its never coming back! Bye facebook. I do want to say thanks for what you have all tried to do but I do not need it. Thank you Sarah Michelle and Andrew Ransom. Its my life though and I am off to my own path.

We find out on February 18 that Jakes is still meeting with the missionaries:

I only thought it would be right to tell everyone on here what I have decided to do with my life. I got permission to be baptized on Saturday February first. I am going to get baptized then I am going to be happy with a partner for my whole life. I will find somebody who will be right for me. I am going to be a Gay Mormon and proud of it. Although I will not reach the highest kingdom any kingdom is fine with me. I will keep everyone on here updated about my situation. I won’t be on here much but I will try to let people know my decisions and how I am doing. I want to say thanks to Sarah Michelle for helping me. Suicide is never the answer. I should spend my life here on earth the best I can. I prayed and I felt my heavenly fathers love tell me to be an advocate to help people like me everywhere.”

Despite the charged and emotional nature of these posts, only Andrew and Sarah ever respond. The privacy settings prevent me from seeing the extent of his friend list, but it is a very small circle.

On January 26, Jake’s FB profile picture is changed to the Red equality sign.

The only event on his profile is the Jan. 28 marriage equality rally in Salt Lake.

All of the posts from the last 24 hours are expressions of support, mostly from Sarah Michelle.

The hospital in Heber, where supposed friends of Jake say that he might be, does not have a Jake staying there. However, given that he “…has a cervical fracture, broken arm, and a broken leg” and “he was given rigid braces and a cervical collar plus a cast for his arm,” he may be receiving more intensive care elsewhere.

Jake’s stated political ideology on Facebook is “Gay Rights” and “Gay rights 123!”

Jake is not a lost lonely 18-year-old (based on his June 13, 1995 birth date found on FB) in Heber, UT. I have no doubt that being an 18-year-old gay man in Heber would be pretty horrible and that there are real Jakes all over Utah.

This Jake is a hoax.

There are many LGBT youth and LGBT young adults being bullied and abused. Many are contemplating suicide. Some will attempt suicide. Some will succeed. This is a crisis.

This stunt in no way advances their cause. Instead, it has the potential for great harm. A harm which is expanded by the loose nature of social media and the internet.

The one positive from this, in my view, is that the outpouring of support for “Jake” showed the robust kindness and charity of the Mormon LGBT and LGBT-ally community.

There is much work to be done and there are many actually stories that need to be told.

Today, reach out to the gay youth you know and have in your life.

UPDATE: The original version of this post identified individuals who I suspected as being behind the hoax. I had primarily circumstantial evidence to support that claim. After a morning of constant threats, I have removed that phrase. (2/5/2014 12:15pm)

54 replies »

  1. I disagree that the people you mentioned are the creators of the hoax. Whoever is behind Jake’s profile joined groups relating to Mormonism, feminism, support for LGBT people. Some people I know reached out to him the same as they would reach out to anybody who may be in trouble. The people you mentioned have been active members of the online communities they’re part of for a long time and would never do something like this as they realize it would only hurt the causes they care so much about. Please stop the defamation of my friends when all you’re going off us is speculation. That hurts the causes and these peoples’ lives as much as any hoax does.

  2. Sarah and Andrew did not create the profile. Upon hearing that it may be a hoax both got the word to people to stop making letters. I know both of these people. Sarah friends people after shortly talking to them and Andrew probably friended Jake because Andrew is gay and is probably trying to be supportive. Please get rid of this concept that Sarah and Andrew created the page, otherwise there should be some way to go after this article for defamation.

    • Upon “hearing” the news they immediately threatened Chris, stating that if he would not put away his evidence that they would VIOLENTLY “RIP [HIM] APART” and even enlist others to do the same if he didn’t shy away. Not exactly the behavior of “compassionate” saints.

      • When Sarah said that she did not mean physically tearing him apart. What she said was out of line. However, we’re fine with Chris putting up his “evidence” here because it’s flimsy. Stop painting us as nasty. We’ve been through a lot the last few days and so we’re tired of people giving us crap.

  3. I agree that it is unfair to point fingers at Sarah or Andrew. I have befriended people in the online LGBT Mormon communitiy, and some of them have seemed even less realistic than Jake, and I was often the only one interacting with them. I know anything is possible, but I don’t like pointing the finger at 2 people simply because they were interacting with this ‘fake’ person.

  4. Andrew Ransom here! Unlike how it could be implied from this blog post, Sarah and I are not the masterminds behind this mess. Who do not know who Jake actually is, and he will not contact us further. If you could make it clear that we are not to blame, that would be lovely.

    • Andrew, thanks for stopping by. My intend is not to cause harm, but to draw conclusions based on my observations of the FB wall in question. I will note your comment in the body of my article.

  5. Jake’s profile has been removed from Facebook. Thanks for analyzing this instance for us Chris. I now feel like I have to triple-check everything I read on the Internet.

  6. I’ve interacted with Andrew on a few Facebook groups and I don’t believe he made jake up. I think you are trying to cause drama. Andrew saw someone who was hurting and jumped to try to help them. That person turned out to be fake. Attacking Andrew and Sarah because they were kind enough to befriend someone who needed help is just plain wrong. You owe both of them an apology. You have no proof just speculation a d now you are dragging their good names through the mud. Shame on you.

  7. Andrew and Sarah are both the type of people who are so compassionate that they immediately came to the aid of someone they perceived to be in trouble. They also both make lots of friends online through different Mormon liberal/feminist/LGBT groups. It sounds like someone took advantage of their empathy and willingness to help. But I know neither of them would’ve created a fake account because they understand just how harmful it would be to real victims to pretend as though they had been bullied like Jake said he was. They know real victims and would not do that to them. They have far more sensitivity than that.

      • Yes, because mob violence was totally threatened. What Sarah said was out of line but she did not mean we would actually physically attack Chris. Come on.

  8. Andrew and Sarah are both the type of people who are so compassionate that they immediately came to the aid of someone they perceived to be in trouble. They also both make lots of friends online through different Mormon liberal/feminist/LGBT groups. It sounds like someone took advantage of their empathy and willingness to help. But I know neither of them would’ve created a fake account because they understand just how harmful it would be to real victims to pretend as though they had been bullied like Jake said he was. They know real victims and would not do that to them. They have far more sensitivity than that.

    • Ally, “compassionate” people DO NOT THREATEN TO VIOLENTLY “RIP APART” OTHERS. Sorry, they just don’t. Your testimonial is appreciated, but found wanting by the subsequent behavior of these two, whose violent reactions now make them seem more guilty than ever.

      • Hello! Just saying. I said that my friends and family would rip him apart…for defaming my name. For lying. For making me feel miserable about an incredibly embarrassing situation. Either way, this was something I said. Not Andrew. Thanks 🙂 and I said that in the sense that his blog would be ripped apart, I have PLENTY of people that would vouch for me any day of the week.
        On top of that, yes, I’m losing my patience. To be publicly humiliated would probably piss you off too.

        • Yes, I found your friends’ ‘gentle soul’ testimonials here somewhat convincing until you actually began threatening to physically harm people (via your apparently violent friends) with whom you disagree. Threatening bodily harm is NEVER ACCEPTABLE, and it makes you look guilty as hell — like an angry child with their hand caught in the cookie jar.

  9. Sarah and Andrew could have made Jake up, I don’t know, but if they did, try weren’t trying to be rude or mean. If Jake is a hoax, it would only make sense that they were involved, because Sarah claimed to know him personally in her letter. If they didn’t make Jake up, that’s also ok. Either way, neither of them was trying to hurt anybody. They just wanted to help, whether it seems that way or not.

    • Chris, your arrogance is sickening. We all read your take on things. You presented your article with facts, pure facts. Which was great. Then, out of nowhere, you name 2 people as responsible for the whole thing, just because they got involved first?
      With this logic, I assume you would convict the first person at the scene of any crime, too.
      Chris, you may not realize this now but your careless accusations might prevent someone else from reaching out first to someone in need. You’re careless accusations might make someone think twice before reaching out at all. Your careless accusations “could” keep someone from saving another’s life.

      And, in our conversation on Facebook earlier, you seemed awfully certain of your accusations. Your evidence is circumstantial at best. Given how aggressive you are with this, I’d say the likelihood that you’re involved in this is much greater than Andrew and Sarah.

  10. If Sarah and Andrew made Jake up, why would they be the first to come forward and admit that it was a hoax?

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to accomplish here, author, by pointing fingers at two young adults who had empathy and were tricked.

  11. Hey! Sarah here! As mentioned in the article! I actually did not make up Jake, nor did Andrew. This implication is absolutely disgusting. I am a big time feminist and a big time supporter of gay rights and I try to help out anyone and everyone. I was introduced to “Jake” via Facebook after he posted a question in a group called AMSSA where he asked what to do when you have to break up with someone but you really love them. Upon further questioning, Jake informed me he was gay and had to break up with the love of his life so that he could become Mormon. I figured my friend Andrew would be a great help in this situation and asked Andrew to help me out which he willingly agreed to do. Over the past month or so we both have been doing what we can to help jake overcome his trials.
    The person Don you mentioned is actually quite real and I’m keeping his last name confidential. Today Don sent me some messages saying he lied to me. That he had never met Jake in person before…(Don being the alleged love of jake’s life.)
    I’m so glad they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true.
    Thank you to the people that have vouched for both Andrew and I, it really truly means a lot.
    It’s quite embarrassing for me to be wrong about something, and then to have my name defamed in the “media.”
    Andrew and I are still lost on exactly what has happened…who “Jake” was and what his goals were.

    • Yea, I dont know him at all. He just wanted me to lie because he needed more supporters so I went along with it. I have never met this “Jake”. Pointing fingers at Andrew and Sarah is wrong. They did nothing wrong. We don’t know who Jake is but he will wish he did not do it at the judgement seat of god.

  12. I’ve personally interacted with Sarah, and don’t believe she had anything to do with creating the profile, or the incident(s) in question. I think she was sucked in, as were many others. Placing blame for such an elaborate hoax on two specific people is jumping the gun, when not all the facts are (or ever will be) known. Please stop defaming Sarah and Andrew. If you continue to perpetuate this, you’re just as bad as the person who started the hoax. Making judgments about people without knowing who they are is just as bad as the (now purely hypothetical) scenario that was Jake’s.

  13. I know Andrew personally and he did not invent “Jake.” Andrew is a kind man who reaches out to people who need help. I am appalled that you would point fingers at him. It undermines your credibility that you would make the assumption that they are behind the hoax just because they reached out to him online. I’m upset that you would accuse him without reasonable proof

      • You really should modify your blog in more ways than you have. You are acting like Glenn Beck in “making connections” of circumstantial evidence, when there really is nothing to support circumstantial evidence vs. any other conclusion.

        • I’d love to see said evidence, physically, if possible. Because, correct me if I’m wrong, the only “evidence” that Chris has against us is that we interacted with “Jake” on Facebook, which is rather flimsy evidence. But if Chris has any more I’d love to see it.

      • If defamation is sufficient for the purposes of your article, maybe you should rethink your article. You can make the same exact points about hoaxes harming the cause and about supporting LGBT people without pointing fingers based on circumstantial evidence. The way you’re going about this seems like you’re more interested in page views than doing what’s right. You are harming innocent people by putting their names up for public scrutiny based off of your own interpretation of incomplete evidence. The people you question pointed out the hoax before you did. Stop appropriating the hoax for your own purposes and causing more harm to the individuals you named as well as to other LGBT people who have already told you you’re causing further harm in this and other venues. Just stop.

  14. I am absolutely appalled of your blog. Andrew and Sarah did NOTHING wrong, they are both kind hearted individuals who believed a friend needed help, so they jumped in.
    If you are to blame anyone, blame “Jake”. He’s the one that caused us to be so riled up, over nothing. It’s revolting to me, how someone can be so heartless. He definitely played us well. He knew that we are all LGBT advocates and we raise awareness for suicide. I admire Andrew and Sarah’s dedication. They were the first ones to jump and help. That has got to say something about their character.

    • Tiffany, you claim they are “kind hearted individuals.” FYI: KIND HEARTED INDIVIDUALS NOT THREATEN TO VIOLENTLY “RIP APART” PEOPLE!! Your testimonial rings hollow in light of their own ‘revealing’ actions.

      • Yes, because our very natures are revealed by an out of line comment that Sarah made. You have no evidence against me anyways because as Sarah clarified above, I made no such comments.

        • She very clearly stated that it would be YOUR FRIENDS, TOO, that would be physically assaulting Chris. Apparently you’re not only a coward, but also a liar. Neither speak well of your character and BOTH make Chris’ supposition all the more likely to be true.

        • Please don’t call me a coward or a liar. I am neither one of those. You are making assumptions on my character based on a comment someone else made. Please stop.

        • I’m just stating the facts. Sarah can hold her own, thank you very much. And you’re talking to two feminists who don’t believe in chivalry, so your argument is rather moot.

  15. I highly doubt Andrew and Sarah are behind it. BUT since I do IT work and I do know people I can find out where this person is that is “Jake” and have his location identified. You, sir, that is accusing Andrew and Sarah based on “situational” or whatever evidence you say it is…. You are a jackass. And Jake, from the LGBTQ community that actually do struggle with this kind of stuff, go to fucking hell. Do you have any idea of the pain and triggers you have caused? Of course not, sick Catfishing people like you don’t care. And like I said, I can find out.

  16. Please pay attention to my requests that this post be altered or taken down. I do not appreciate my name (and Sarah’s) being continually defamed. Please stop ignoring me.

  17. The only “threats” I see from Andrew Ransom and Sarah Michelle on the Facebook post are: “Go ahead, restore it. You will be ripped apart by the people that know and love us.” and “And you will be reported. Oh my bad, act like a human being.” Not quite what I’d call “a morning of constant threats”.
    Good article, yes, but there was no reason to implicate them as the creators of the hoax, from what I understand, except for the fact that they, among others, had spoken with “Jake” over Facebook. Claiming them to be the masterminds on that alone is not just poor journalism, but also a little bit stupid.

    • Ben, save the buffoonery and name calling for your 7th grade gym class. At least Chris has a form of evidence. You don’t even have that. Do you? No. No you don’t.

      • PS- Someone went to the extreme to tell Chris that HE’D BE VIOLENTLY “RIPPED APART” IF HE DIDN’T BACK OFF? Sounds like he’s on the right track.

        • Now you’re just misquoting Sarah. She never said the word “violently.” Her statement was out of line but in no way defines us as awful people. Chris is playing the martyr here but he’s been an asshole to Sarah and I. Besides, his evidence is ridiculously flimsy to throw the entire blame on us.

        • “YOU WILL BE RIPPED APART” sounds EXTREMELY violent to me. (Also, notice the quotation marks. Yes, that’s right.) Again, your credibility is lessening with every word out of your mouth.

        • You’re just a couple of misrepresented gentle souls who just happen to go around THREATENING TO MAIM PEOPLE? Is that your new argument? Really? Yes, I’m sure far less people now believe you’re capable of the psychotic cruelty needed to manipulate the emotions of countless others.

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