A Mississippi man has been arrested and charged with insurance fraud and evidence tampering after he claimed he awoke one morning to find his two cars spray-painted with racist graffiti and the word “Trump.”
Trumaine Foster was jailed on Feb. 28, more than three weeks after he called police in the Memphis, Tennessee, suburb of Southaven, Mississippi, to report his car and pickup truck had been vandalized.
His truck was emblazoned in two places with the N-word and the car was spray-painted with the phrase “Leave [N-word]” and “Trump.”
Southaven police did not definitively say Foster was responsible for the graffiti, Memphis CBS-network affiliate WREG reported.
WREG quoted neighbors who sounded incredulous.
“That it was a hoax just kind of made us look silly,” Foster’s neighbor Shelby Littleton said.
“To make something up, that just does not make sense to me,” Bradley Littleton said.
The TV station said Foster owns a body shop that specializes in painting cars. LinkedIn shows a Trumaine Foster owns M&M Cars and Trucks in the greater Memphis area.
The incident is only the latest in a string of potential hate crime hoaxes, involving alleged victims accusing President Donald Trump’s supporters of racist actions.
Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett claimed in January 2019 that two men threw a noose around his neck and poured chemicals on him on a dark Chicago street while yelling racist and homophobic slurs and expressing support for Trump.
Police arrested Smollett, who is black and openly gay, a month later, accusing the actor of paying two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack in a hoax aimed at gaining public sympathy and raising his show-business profile.
He was subsequently charged in a 16-count indictment, but the Cook County state’s attorney’s office dropped the charges three weeks later in exchange for Smollett forfeiting his bail without admitting wrongdoing.
Smollett was re-indicted on Feb. 11 on six counts of disorderly conduct, capping a five-month investigation by a court-appointed special prosecutor who overruled a decision by the state’s attorney’s office last year to dismiss the original case.
In another case near Atlanta, police arrested former NFL player Edawn Coughman, 31, in September for allegedly staging a hate crime at his own restaurant and ice cream shop.
According to Gwinnett County police, Coughman trashed his businesses and spray-painted “MAGA” as well as swastikas and slurs on the walls to make it appear he was the victim of a racially motivated burglary. He was charged with false reporting of a burglary, insurance fraud and concealing a license plate.