Cart 0 $0.00
IRE favicon

How to deal with hoaxes, con men and frauds in your reporting

By Taeler De Haes

It’s important to understand where the information you're getting comes from. At the recent IRE Conference in New Orleans, Ira Rosen of 60 Minutes, Tony Kovaleski of KMGH in Denver and Matthew Mosk of ABC shared tips on how to spot frauds – including unreliable sources, misleading or false documents and flat-out liars.

Vet your sources. Ask a few opening questions to yourself. Is the story too good to be true? Did they offer the story to someone else in your market? Find the motivation behind contacting you.

Conduct a “deep dive” background check. Make sure you research and investigate your source.

Make sure the source is in sync with you. Let your source know right away how their interview will be used in the context of the story.

Test your sources. Set up a face-to-face meeting with them. Often, reading their body language will tell you if they are a fraud.

Play poker. Ask questions you know the answer to.

Assign homework to your sources. Give them a list of what you need from them to move further. If they follow through, chances are they are legitimate.

Stay in touch with sources after the story runs to maintain a relationship. Keeping in touch for birthdays, anniversaries and just a friendly “hello” can help make the source feels she is not being used only for information.

Quadruple check documents. Fake documents exist. Make sure the person giving you the documents had custody of them and understand the exact origin of the information.

Include your colleagues in the vetting process. Double-check with colleagues and include them in meetings you may have with sources to get a second opinion.


Taeler De Haes graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in May. She received her MA in investigative journalism and her BJ in broadcast journalism

109 Lee Hills Hall, Missouri School of Journalism   |   221 S. Eighth St., Columbia, MO 65201   |   573-882-2042   |   |   Privacy Policy
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram
My cart
Your cart is empty.

Looks like you haven't made a choice yet.