Website Debunked in Fake Oil Spill Notices in Kingston

Published on: 2013/04/11 - in Featured News

On April 4, a newsletter being circulated in Kingston neighbourhoods – reporting an oil spill had occurred at a nearby Enbridge pipeline – was confirmed to be a hoax by Enbridge Inc. (TSE:ENB) and the City of Kingston.

The flyer also pointed recipients to a ‘community information site’ where they could find ‘more information on the ongoing cleanup effort’:

An analysis of that website reveals fraudulent details as well, both with the registration of the website and the photos it includes, captioned as if they depict an oil spill in Kingston .

Domain Name Registration

According to the Whois details (for that website name), was registered through Automattic Inc. on April 3rd of this year.

Automattic is a web development corporation best know for its creation of WordPress, a free blogging website where is also hosted – whereas an official page by Enbridge would most likely be hosted on their own website.

Instead of using a private registration, the domain name’s Registrant, Administrative Contact, and Technical Contact are all listed under the name Steve Wuori, along with an address associated with Enbridge.

This is the same name as the company’s President for Liquids Pipelines and Major Projects – not someone who would likely be involved with registering website names for Enbridge.

Additionally, instead of using an Enbridge email address, the domain was registered with a address.

According to its website, Hushmail is a secure web-based free email service used by “millions of people and thousands of businesses” to “safeguard their secrets” through its strong email encryption to “protect your secrets from prying eyes”…

According to Automattic’s Domain Registrant Agreement, and indeed for all domain registrars, providing fake information to purchase a domain would likely result in its removal if a complaint were to be filed with Automattic:


(1) The Registrant agrees to provide, maintain and update, current, complete and accurate information of the Whois Record…

Photo Gallery

If the questionable domain details were not enough to raise suspicions as to the site’s authenticity, then the photos featured on its gallery page (50% size screencap) – indicated to be images from the imaginary Kingston pipeline leak – certainly seal the deal…

The first image is a map, modified to indicate details of the fake spill, that can be found on another site created to oppose the local pipeline: ‘No Tar Sands Pipeline in Kingston“.

The second photo is of a sign informing residents to avoid recreational activities on the Cataraqui River.

However, aside from a couple of changes, it is identical to one posted on Flickr – apparently taken / posted in July 2010 – warning residents about contamination of the Kalamazoo River  in Battle Creek, Michigan (and that photo’s authenticity is suspect as well).

Doing an ELA (Error Level Analysis) of the Kingston photo (seen right, with original at top) clearly shows light areas where the City of Kingston logo was added at the top left and where “Calhoun County Public Health Department” was edited to remove the words “Calhoun County” and shift the remain text.

The third photo, with its  right border photo credit blurred out, can also be found as the fifth picture in a recent CNN photo slideshow of an Arkansas pipeline spill.

The fourth photo is identical to one seen in the Seattle Free Press article “Major spill after Exxon pipe ruptures in US

The fifth photo apparently has nothing to do with oil spills at all, but instead was used in the CBC story “Blackbirds die in Louisiana

The sixth photo – according to Business Insider – is also from an Exxon pipeline break in Arkansas.

Likewise, the seventh photo is from the Huffington Post article “The Arkansas Oil Spill Photos the Keystone Cabal Doesn’t Want You to See“.


Kingston City Police are investigating these fraudulent letters – which were also distributed this past weekend –  and if a perpetrator is found, charges of mischief, impersonation, or uttering a forged document could be laid.

Anyone with information about the flyers or website can contact Kingston City Police at 613-549-4660.


Top image created using photo on Flicker (cc)