Paris (AFP) - Agence France-Presse said Wednesday it had fallen victim to a hoax by a person claiming to be a relative of a man killed in the Nice attack who never existed.
A woman claimed in an interview via Twitter that she was the cousin of a man named Timothe Fournier who died after pushing his seven-months pregnant wife out of the way of a rampaging truck.
The account was reported by AFP which put together a comprehensive list of the victims after the July 14 attack, combing through social media networks and local media in a bid to identify and contact family members.
However when an official list was published, the name of Timothe Fournier did not appear among the 84 victims.
When AFP tried to recontact the "cousin", who had given numerous details about the supposed victim, the woman did not reply and closed the Twitter account. AFP corrected the initial story.
"Our journalist, trying to be extremely sensitive and empathetic to victims of the attack, did not sufficiently cross-check and verify the information," said global news director Michele Leridon.
"This is regrettable and harmful to the Agency and its clients who used the story. But we were victims of a malicious act.
"We firmly reminded our news staff of sourcing rules and those governing the use of social media networks," she said.