A satirical article has claimed an executive of pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which produces COVID-19 vaccines, has been arrested and charged with fraud. The piece has been shared widely online by people who think the claim is authentic.
The headline of the article reads “VP of Pfizer arrested after document dump” (here).
The article states: “Rady Johnson, the executive Vice President of Pfizer, has been arrested at his home and charged with multiple counts of fraud by federal agents.
“He was taken into custody and is awaiting a bail hearing.”
Johnson is Pfizer’s Executive Vice President and Chief Compliance, Quality and Risk Officer, the company’s website (here) says.
A Pfizer spokesperson told Reuters that claims of Johnson’s arrest are “false”.
“Rady Johnson has not been arrested,” the Pfizer spokesperson said.
However, the posts in which the article has been shared on social media do not make it clear that it is satirical – and some users have interpreted the claims as genuine.
In one example, a user with 17,000 followers wrote on Twitter (here “It's started. Vice President of #Pfizer has been arrested at his home and charged with multiple counts of fraud by US federal agents.”
The article contains disclaimers which state that it is satire.
In a May 6 version of the piece, a disclaimer at the end reads (here “This is a satire article.”
An updated version of the article, seen here, adds that the disclaimers have been included to “ease confusion”.
The disclaimer now states: “This is a satire article. Health officials in Canada consider vaccines to be safe and effective. For the latest news on Pfizer, go here.”
The website’s “About Us” section vancouvertimes.org/about-us/ also details how the site is focused on satirical articles. It reads: “Vancouver Times is the most trusted source for satire on the West Coast.
“We write satirical stories about issues that affect conservatives.”
Reuters previously addressed a hoax article falsely claiming Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla had been arrested here.
Satire. The claim is false. The publisher of the article explicitly states that it is satire.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.