Fact Check

No, Tim Hortons CEO Was Not Arrested

This rumor about the CEO of the Canadian breakfast company originated on a website that claims to produce "satirical" content.

Published Jul 21, 2022

Updated Jul 21, 2022
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA - 2016/03/04: Tim Horton's drive through sign: Tim Horton is known all over Canada for serving hot and delicious coffee specially in winter time. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Image Via Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Claim:
On July 20, 2022, Tim Hortons CEO Daniel Schwartz was arrested for allegedly possessing child pornography.
Context

This false rumor appeared to be made up out of whole cloth.

On July 20, 2022, a website called Vancouver Times published an article claiming that the CEO of Tim Hortons, David Schwartz, had been arrested for allegedly possessing child pornography. However, no part of this rumor was true; it appeared to be made up out of whole cloth. The Vancouver Times said the story intended to be satirical.

Not only was the premise of the arrest rumor completely false, but the article's alleged CEO of the Canadian breakfast company, Schwartz, was not actually the CEO. Rather, he is listed online as the co-chairman of a board governing Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Tim Hortons.

The beginning of the Vancouver Times article read like this:

The CEO of the iconic Canadian breakfast franchise Tim Hortons has been arrested at his home early Wednesday for possession of child pornography. He was taken into custody by police and is currently in prison awaiting a bail hearing.

Daniel Schwartz was arrested at his home outside of New York City by federal officers and members of the NYPD. Social media users took to social media to demand a statement from the company, stating the news of the CEO’s arrest has negatively affected their perception of Tim Horton’s brand.

Officers say this is one of the most heinous cases they have ever seen. A press conference will be held at a later date to discuss the charges levied against the CEO.

One of the most popular shares of the false article about Tim Hortons appeared to come from Twitter user @ChickenGate. That user shared the misleading story, apparently believing it to be a genuine news item. That tweet received well over 1,000 combined "retweets" and "likes" before it was deleted.

After the article on the Vancouver Times website (vancouvertimes.org) was initially published, one of its writers apparently added an update to clarify that the story was "satire." That update read as follows:

UPDATE: As many were quick to point out, this article is satirical. To ease confusion, we’ve placed this article in our satire section and added a note at the bottom of the article. If you’re still confused, please check out our About Us section.

Additionally, the website's "About Us" page included a similar disclaimer:

Vancouver Times is the most trusted source for satire on the West Coast. We write satirical stories about issues that affect conservatives.

We are not affiliated with the mainstream media (CBC, CTV etc.) in any way, and any similarities between our content, the names of our authors, and that of the MSM are purely coincidental.

The original article was later removed and was replaced with an update that read as follows:

Editor’s note: The original satirical article has been removed. We apologize for any inconvenience or confusion. Please return to our home page to see our latest stories.

A search for the origins of VancouverTimes.org showed that the website was registered on a Ukrainian domain registrar in December 2021. It's unclear if the website existed on a different domain registrar prior to that time. Additionally, we found at least one website registered in Nigeria printed the article about Tim Hortons as if it was factual.

In sum, no, Schwartz nor anyone with the Tim Hortons leadership team had been arrested on suspicion of child pornography. This false story came from an article that was labeled as "satire."

Updates

On the afternoon of July 21, 2022, the "satirical" Vancouver Times article was mostly removed from the website.

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

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