The story of a three-year-old girl who was asked to leave a KFC because her dog attack scars were scaring the other customers has been accused of being a hoax.
Kelly Mullins, the grandmother of Victoria Wilcher, who was left with severe facial injuries after being attacked by her grandfather's pitpulls, claimed KFC staff at a branch in Jackson, Mississippi, asked them to take the three-year-old out of the fast food restaurant because her appearance was putting the other customers off.
Following outcry over the incident, KFC apologised and pledged $30,000 to help pay the medical bills for Victoria, who had lost her right eye as well as suffering a broken upper and lower jaw, nose and cheek during the attack.
As the story spread around the world, $135,000 was also donated to the family's GoFundMe page from the public to help pay for Victoria's treatment and surgery. Members of staff at the KFC store also said they became the victims of death threats because of the claims.
However, it is now claimed the family made the whole story up, with local newspaper Laurel Leader-Call reporting there is no evidence the story ever occurred.
CCTV footage shows that neither Mullins nor Victoria were ever in the KFC branch in question at the time of the alleged incident.
Mullins also claimed she had ordered a large sweet tea and some mashed potatoes and gravy for her granddaughter as she was feeding through a tube at the time but "figured she could just swallow [the potatoes]".
However, the paper also says no one had ordered tea and mashed potato as a meal or even as part of a larger order on the day, as Mullins claimed she had.
A source told the paper how the story also did not stand up as the restaurant has never refused service to someone because they were sick.
"We have never ever, ever run off anyone, and we have seen some really, really sick people come to the restaurant from the hospital," the source said. "We've had people come in who were shot in the face. We've had them with tubes and wire sticking out. We never have asked anyone to leave.
Dick West, whose company owns the local KFC franchises, said that the company will still offer the $30,000 to the family despite all the evidence that the "event at KFC never happened".
A lawyer for Mullins said the family have not decided whether they will accept the offer from KFC yet.
A statement on the Victoria's Victories Facebook page, a page set up by Victoria's aunt Teri Rials detailing her medical care, denied claims the family made the whole story up.
Rials said: "I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way."
A KFC spokesperson said: "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."