It has been confirmed in a YouTube video that the Natalia Amyot campaign was a fake "viral video" put together by a social media company trying to put Mooloolaba on the map.
The video of a French tourist pleading for help to find the father of the baby she allegedly conceived during a one-night stand in Australia is probably not what it appears to be.
Stories of "Natalie Amyot" went viral yesterday as the media rushed to report on the tale of a French tourist using her last dime to return to Australia and find the "love of her life" she spent a night with.
But an anonymous source has come forward to BuzzFeed News, claiming Natalie Amyot is actually a woman named Alizee Michel, and the viral video is a marketing stunt.
"Amyot" uploaded a crudely edited video to YouTube on Monday in which she pleads for help in finding an Australian man who she says is the father of her child.
The woman set up a Facebook account under the name of Natalie Amyot and posted in local community boards, thanking people for their "help" in the days prior. But these were her only posts and there was no evidence of previous interactions on Facebook.
As the story travelled, hundreds of people posted to the Facebook page, with Natalie only replying "thankyou" occasionally and liking the odd comment.
The story spread with several Australian media outlets reporting it uncritically. But as news spread, questions were being asked online as people accused "Natalie" of being a hoax.
"Natalie" posted a few times, appearing upset by claims that she was a fake.
Then, early this morning the Natalie Amyot Facebook account was deleted.
Claims that Natalie was a hoax began with the discovery of the @alizee_m Instagram account (which has since been turned to private). The account chronicled the lifestyle of a French woman living in Australia, who looked remarkably similar to "Natalie."
After the account was made private only a few photos were available via Google.
As it was uncovered that Natalie's real name might be Alizee Michel, it became easier to search for her. Snaps of her on a beach with friends from February hint that she wasn't just "visiting" Australia, as claimed.
A source told BuzzFeed News that Alizee Michel has lived in Australia for a while now and works for a "brand of social media." They suggested that the "Natalie Amyot" story was a "marketing thing."
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Mooloolaba Tourism for comment. Other local tourism operators and a local bar referenced in the video have denied any involvement.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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