On Thursday, Dec. 17, Trump supporters started flooding social media with claims that a woman named Ruby Freeman had been arrested by the FBI for crimes related to election fraud in Atlanta, Georgia.
"Ruby Freeman (the Democrat suitcase blonde-braid woman in GA) has been arrested! She has acknowledged to law enforcement and investigators her role in the Fulton County methods of GOP witness complaints and the after hours ballot scheme count," wrote Mona Fishman, a Trump supporter, on Twitter.
The rumor included additional claims of Freeman intentionally "mishandling" ballots, implicating Dominion officials for their role in the alleged election fraud scheme and requesting amnesty in exchange for her testimony. The posts cited the source of the information as an FBI statement posted by the agency's Georgia arm on Dec. 17.
The longer versions of this rumor claimed that the "source" of the information was an FBI statement posted in the early hours of Dec. 17.
FBI Posted No Such Statement
Fact-checking website Snopes has now debunked the claim saying that there seems to be "no truth" behind this rumor.
Firstly, the website rummaged through websites as well as social media pages belonging to the FBI, its Atlanta division, and other law enforcement offices including the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia, and the Fulton County Police Department, and found no mention or statement of Freeman's alleged arrest.
Part of a Wider Conspiracy Theory
Secondly, the rumor seemed be one of many false claims pushed by the Trump campaign in its smear campaign against the U.S. electoral process and its bid to overturn the results of the presidential election.
Earlier this month, Trump, his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and other conspiracy theorists shared a video claiming to show a Georgia election worker they identified as Freeman removing ballots from a suitcase hidden under a table and counting them illegally after asking observers to leave the room.
The rumor was later debunked by election officials and it was found that the video was selectively edited to push the conspiracy theory that election workers had dragged out fraudulent ballots under the cover of night. According to the theory, those suitcases helped swing Georgia's Electoral College votes to President-elect Joe Biden.
Freeman's Instagram Confession
After the wild conspiracy theory was fact-checked, social media users started sharing a "confession" that Freeman posted on her Instagram account, claiming she and her daughter committed election fraud.
Social media users also started circulating a mug shot of an entirely different woman named "Ruby Freeman" in an apparent attempt to push their baseless theory.
It turns out that the now-deleted Instagram account, which went by @RubyFreeman_Georgia, was created the same day the message was posted and did not belong to Freeman. The user behind the account also admitted that the account was started as a shell account in an attempt to get people to stop spreading disinformation.
The accusations against Freeman were without any merit, as were a plethora of claims holding that the 2020 presidential election was rigged by widespread voter fraud.