Last week, Voodoo Doughnut found itself mired in an online conspiracy theory alleging the famous Portland doughnut franchise is involved in child sex trafficking.
It started when a man identified as Michael Whalen appeared on a YouTube show on Aug. 4, claiming he saw signs of child trafficking during a party he attended at Voodoo owner Tres Shannon's Portland house. The video racked up over 70,000 views, spread to online conspiracy hubs like the message board 4chan and sparked the hashtag "#doughnutgate."
Whalen offered no direct evidence to support his claims, but told the show's host, Nathan Stolpman, that he had spoken to authorities.
WW contacted Portland police—which would be the appropriate authority to contact—who say no such reports exist.
"The Portland Police Bureau is aware of the information being shared on social media but at this time has not received any reports substantiating these allegations from anyone by the name 'Michael Whelan,'" police spokesman Pete Simpson tells WW.
Simpson clarified that there are no reports under the alternate spelling of "Michael Whalen," nor is there anything on file related to criminal activity involving Voodoo.
"Should an actual police report be filed," Simpson says, "the Police Bureau would take appropriate investigative measures to follow-up on information regarding criminal activity."
WW attempted to reach Whalen for comment. Records show a man by that name lives in the Portland area, but his last available phone number appears to be inactive. Messages sent to his Twitter account went unanswered.