The story of a three-year-old girl kicked out of a KFC in the United States due to her facial injuries is reportedly an elaborate hoax.
Victoria Wilcher made headlines around the world after her family claimed she and her grandmother, Kelly Mullins, were asked to leave the restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi because her scars from a pitbull attack disturbed other patrons.
The family posted the story on a Facebook page, Victoria's Victories, in a post titled "Does this face look scary to you?" The post quickly went viral.
The allegations prompted KFC to issue an apology and make a US$30,000 donation to assist with Victoria's medical bills. The restaurant also began an investigation into the incident.
A source involved in the investigation has told Mississippi newspaper the Laurel Leader-Call the findings so far point to the conclusion that the whole story was fabricated.
According to the source, there was no security footage of Victoria or Mullins in any of the restaurants in the area on the day they were supposedly asked to leave, and no record of their order.
Mullins had told a local television station: "I ordered a sweet tea and mashed potatoes and gravy. I sat down at the table and started feeding her and the lady came over and said that we would have to leave, because we were disturbing other customers, that Victoria's face was disturbing other customers."
In response to the new information, Jackson KFC franchise owner Kirk Hannon said in a statement:
"We continue to take this report seriously, and of course have great sympathy for Victoria and her family.
"Since we have so far not been able to verify the incident in our internal investigation, we have also hired a third-party consultant to conduct an independent investigation to help us resolve this matter."
However, a Facebook post on Victoria's Victories states the story is not a hoax.
"I promise it's not a hoax, I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has," the post says.
The statement said KFC would honour its donation of $30,000 to pay for Victoria's medical bills regardless of the outcome of the investigation.
Since the story went viral, more than $135,000 has been raised for the family through an online donation site. Prior to the story, only $600 had been raised.
Victoria was attacked by pit bulls at her grandfather's home in April.
The dogs broke her nose, both jaws, cheekbones and right eye socket. The right side of her face is paralysed and she lost that eye, according to her Facebook site.
Her bottom jaw was reconstructed but she needs a feeding tube and must grow more bone in her face before more surgery is possible, it stated.
The family has not been able to be reached for comment following the latest reports, according to the Leader-Call.
- Fairfax Media