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Mica Soellner
By Mica Soellner March 19, 2018

No, Barack Obama does not owe $400 million in restitution fees

Rumors have spread that a fake court ordered former President Barack Obama to pay $400 million in restitution fees back to the American people.

"Court orders Obama to pay $400 million in restitution," reads the headline on Daily World Update, a blog site claiming to produce fictitious material and conservative satire.

Facebook users flagged the post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat online hoaxes.

The article cites the nonexistent West Texas Federal Appeals Court as ordering Obama to repay the $400 million. While there is a federal court serving the Western district of Texas, it is not an appeals court, and there is no official court that matches the name of the one mentioned in the story.

The judges named in the fake news article are also made up. They listed Gary Jones, Amanda Perry and Kris Weinshenker as the primary judges who handled the case. When searching for them, we found no results of anyone by these names who serve in legal or judicial practices.

The story attributed quotes to the fake judges accusing Obama of having done incomparable economic damage to the United States and evaluating the outcome of the restitution fees.

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The story claims the $400 million fees come from money that was "lost" in an illegal transaction with Iranian hard-liners.

We suspect the reference comes from a $400 million payment made to Iran in 2016 for that amount which was part of a $1.7 billion settlement. PolitiFact fact-checked claims that this payment was a "ransom" deal when Iran released five American prisoners back to the United States on the same day that the payment was transferred by cash to Iran.

The initial $400 million has been owed to Iran since 1979 when Iran purchased American fighter jets which the U.S. didn’t deliver following the Islamic Revolution. The payment is actually part of a $1.7 billion payment, in which an additional $1.3 billion serves as interest.

Our ruling

A fake news article claimed that a court ordered Obama to pay the American public $400 million in repayment fees due to an illegal transaction with Iran.

The court and its judges were fictitious and the payment was a reference to a legitimate transaction given to Iran that the United States owed in 2016.

We rate this Pants on Fire.


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No, Barack Obama does not owe $400 million in restitution fees

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