Leicester

YouTuber Josh Pieters pranks influencers with 'Moon rock'

The piece of gravel sent to influencers Image copyright Emily Blackwell/Instagram
Image caption YouTuber Josh Pieters sent online influencers pieces of gravel and claimed it was Moon rock

A prankster has duped 40 social media influencers by sending them "Moon rock" that was actually gravel.

YouTuber Josh Pieters sent packages to the online celebrities, claiming they were from the National Space Centre to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.

Celebrities taken in by the prank included several Made In Chelsea stars, Instagram influencers and YouTubers.

The space centre said its credibility had been questioned.

Mr Pieters posted parcels with a false certificate of authenticity, and a handwritten note on paper with a fake letterhead.

'Fictitious organisation'

The note said: "To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, we at the National Space Centre are delighted to send you your very own piece of the Moon.

"Feel free to share."

Made in Chelsea star Louise Thompson shared the parcel on her Instagram stories with her 1.1 million followers saying: "As if this is from the moon?!....This is the coolest thing I have received in my life."

Image copyright Josh Pieters
Image caption Mr Pieters printed the fake letterheads to pretend the rock was from the space centre

Her Made In Chelsea co-stars Emily Blackwell and Tiffany Watson were also duped, as well as YouTuber Jack Maynard.

Malika Andress, from the Leicester-based centre, said: "We are sorry that people have been pranked in this way and that the National Space Centre's credibility as an educational charity has been called into question."

She said Mr Pieters "could have created a fictitious organisation" for the prank.

Image copyright Josh Pieters
Image caption The space centre replied to YouTuber Jack Maynard to break the bad news

The centre has now offered those taken in by the hoax "an opportunity to have a handling session with a real piece of Moon rock" and said it hoped they would visit the centre.

In a video revealing the prank, Mr Pieters apologised to the centre and said he hoped the publicity would prove "beneficial for [it] in the long-run".

He also apologised to the influencers and said he hoped they would realise it was a joke.

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