Faking celeb deaths a big business for some websites, expert says

Actor Wayne Knight attends the premiere of Disney's 'Saving Mr. Banks', on December 9, 2013, in Burbank, California.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Actor Wayne Knight is alive and well, no matter what the internet would have you believe.

The "Seinfeld" star was forced to confirm that fact to the world, after online rumors exploded this weekend.

The hoax is part of a trend that may be no accident, Kevin Frazier of "The Insider" reported.

Knight once became dinner for a dinosaur in "Jurassic Park" and nearly burned to death in his mail truck on "Seinfeld." But in real life, Knight is still very much alive. He took to Twitter on Sunday to refute reports he had died in a tragic car accident.

One of those stories appeared on the website eBuzzd, which received 8,000 Facebook likes. EBuzzd uses the url TMZ.today, which some viewers may have confused with TMZ.com.

Tim Stevens, editor at large at CNET, said, "A site like TMZ makes maybe 100 million page views a month. Obviously, these fake sites aren't getting anywhere near that, but if they can get really a fraction of that, they can make tens of thousands of dollars off of one of these fake stories over just a couple of days."

On its about page, eBuzzd warns: "...if you find stories on eBuzzd shocking or even real at all, then you should log off the Internet..."

Another website, fakeawish.com, even allows users to generate their own realistic-looking, but false news stories designed to go viral. The fake celebrity deaths often involve jet-ski accidents and trips to Australia.

The site's creator Rich Hoover refused to go on-camera, but spoke to "CBS This Morning" by phone.

"It's important that the articles are structured so they're not slanderous," Hoover said. "In almost every single article, there's a statement that says 'drugs and alcohol were not a factor'."

Knight's "Jurassic Park" co-star, Jeff Goldblum, was the victim of false death rumors back in 2009. He appeared on "The Colbert Report" -- itself a parody news show -- to refute them.

Goldblum said then, "I'm sorry to interrupt my friend, Stephen, but look! I'm not dead!"

Colbert said, "Do you mind, Jeff Goldblum? I'm reporting on the death of Jeff Goldblum!"

"No, no, Steve," Goldblum replied. "In fact, last week, I was not even in New Zealand. Look, I'm not dead."

Colbert said, "Jeff, I read it on Twitter!"

The list of actors prematurely killed off by the internet include Will Smith, Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber -- just to name a few.

Stevens said, "If you're someone who just casually reads headlines or reads the first couple sentences of a story, you probably would never notice that these stories are fake."