VENICE BEACH (CBSLA.com) — For five years, an Orange County man battling a debilitating illness was an inspiration on the Internet.
His name was Dave Rose. He was a deaf, quadriplegic blogger from Anaheim with more than 15,000 followers on Twitter under the handle, "Dave on Wheels".
Despite disabilities brought on by cerebral palsy, Dave held an audience of thousands, including celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, with his humorous blogs.
His sister, Nichole, also joined in on the messages. Most recently, she announced her brother's death from pneumonia.
Followers of the man's story were devastated by the news until they found out…
Dave didn't actually exist.
The "Dave" seen in pictures was actually Hunter Dunn, who is alive and well in Danville, Virginia.
Dunn's mother sent KCAL9's Suzie Suh a picture and said she had no idea the photo fraud was going on until Monday.
She said her family is angry and frustrated somebody could be so cruel.
Blogger "Nichole Rose" apologized for the ruse, and admitted "Dave on Wheels" was merely a character.
For most, it was too little, too late.
USC social media expert Karen North said, "They said they didn't want to go in this direction. They wanted to create a character that shared love and optimism. But they did it in a way that exploits people. Now we'll all be a little skeptical the next time somebody tugs at our heartstrings."
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