Did a New Jersey waitress dupe the media over an $18 tip? Two weeks ago, the story from New Jersey that went viral focused on a restaurant bill that had a note slamming the waitress’ lesbian lifestyle in place of a tip for a $93.55 meal. “IM (sic) Sorry,” the hand-scrawled note read, “But I cannot tip because I do not agree with with (sic) your lifestyle and how you live your life.” The story generated outrage and a deluge of donations, which Dayna Morales pledged to forward to Wounded Warrior Project.

But hold the outrage for a moment, and the donations, at least through Morales. The family with the bill says that they did actually leave a tip — for $18, or roughly 20% — and have the bank statement to prove it. NBC’s Today interviewed the family this morning:

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NBC New York has more details, which seem damning:

But a family contacted NBC 4 New York claiming their receipt from the restaurant shows they did leave a tip, and provided what they said was a credit card statement as proof.

The husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, showed NBC 4 New York a receipt that appeared to be printed at the same minute, on the same date, for the same $93.55 total, except with an $18 tip.

They also provided a document they said was a Visa bill, which appears to indicate their card was charged for the meal plus the tip, for a total of $111.55.

The couple told NBC 4 New York that they believed their receipt was used for a hoax. The wife says she is left-handed and could not have made the slash in the tip line, which she said looks to be drawn from the right.

“We’ve never not left a tip when someone gave good service, and we would never leave a note like that,” the wife said.

The husband said he and his wife have both worked in restaurants and believe in the value of tipping, and noted that he didn’t vote for Gov. Chris Christie because the governor doesn’t support gay marriage.

“Never would a message like that come from us,” he said.

The family believes that the hoax may have been retaliation for a misunderstanding that happened at the beginning of their meal, after they were told “Dan” would be serving them. Regardless, the restaurant later told NBC New York that they would investigate what happened — especially since the family got charged the full $111.55 for the meal by the restaurant, a fact corroborated by their credit-card statement.

Don’t let this keep you from donating directly to Wounded Warrior Project, which is a fine organization. But it should be a lesson in retaining some skepticism about strange claims of victimization, especially petty incidents like this. Even if it was on the level, was this really a news story at all?