According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, as of April 5, the United States has recorded the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – 330,000. Over 9,500 people have lost their lives in the country due to the pandemic.

A two-minute video which shows people looting a mall has gone viral on social media. The claim associated with the video suggests that people in America are looting malls due to a fear of coronavirus. On the bottom right, one can spot a CNN logo with the news flash – “BREAKING NEWS Organized theft of malls in California, Virginia, York and other cities due to fears of a corona virus.”

Kuwait-based social media celebrity Bibi Alabdulmohsen shared the viral video on Twitter (archive link). She quote-tweeted a tweet which said, “Malls stormed America in California. Virginia. New York. And other states (translated from اقتحام المولات بامريكا في كاليفورنا . فيرجينيا . نيويورك . و ولايات اخرى).”

Alt News has received several requests to fact-check the viral video on WhatsApp (+91 76000 11160) and on our official Android application.

Old video from Mexico

Alt News performed a keywords search on YouTube and noticed that a similar-looking mall was looted in Veracruz, Mexico three years ago.

Using this as a clue, we performed another keyword search but with Spanish keywords ‘saqueo de centros comerciales’ (translation of ‘mall looting’ by Google). The viral video was also published by a YouTube account Fernando Mojica J on January 6, 2017.

According to the description, the video shows the looting at Chedraui Ponti mall Veracruz on January 4, 2017. A January 5, 2017 report by Bloomberg confirms the incident. According to the report, people responded to a hike in gasoline prices by looting several malls. The viral video has been clipped from the 1:46 mark.

CNN logo morphed

Readers should note that the breaking news text and CNN logo has been morphed. The screenshot below compares stills from two videos which shows a man wearing number 12 jersey.

Therefore the claim associated with the viral video is false and misleading. Americans did not loot malls in the US fearing coronavirus pandemic but the video represents an old incident from Mexico.

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About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.