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Memes Overstate Yovanovitch’s Wealth


Quick Take

Questionable websites and social media posts claim — without evidence — that former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch’s net worth is as high as $23 million. According to her most recent financial disclosure, Yovanovitch has an estimated net worth of between $1.3 million and $3.3 million.


Full Story

Social media posts have recently bestowed upon Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a personal net worth of anywhere from $6.4 million to $23 million.

However, according to her 2019 financial disclosure, which we requested from the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Yovanovitch has assets worth between $1.3 million and $3.3 million.

That includes houses in Boca Raton, Florida, and Alexandria, Virginia, which is near Washington, D.C. The Florida house is valued at between $250,001 and $500,000, and the Virginia house is valued at between $500,001 and $1 million. The rest of her assets are in either bank accounts or investment funds, the estimated value of which can vary widely.

While this kind of financial disclosure report doesn’t give a full account of net worth — it excludes some financial information, such as government retirement benefits and some bank accounts worth less than $5,000 — it does provide an outline of her wealth.

The posts on social media, on the other hand, either don’t include any evidence to support the figures they cite, or they link to websites that, similarly, don’t include any supporting documentation. One of those websites, for example, lists Yovanovitch’s net worth as $17 million, but it doesn’t explain where that number came from. The website was registered in September and is based in Pakistan, according to domain registry details. The site’s owner did not respond to our email.

The claims about Yovanovitch’s net worth are part of the flood of attention the former ambassador has attracted since she testified during the impeachment inquiry focused on President Donald Trump’s interactions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

One unsourced tweet from a user who includes the pro-Trump MAGA hashtag in his bio, claimed that he had “tracked down” Yovanovitch’s net worth to be between $17 million and $23 million, but “the ENTIRE WEB had been scrubbed” of the evidence. That claim was retweeted more than 4,300 times and then it migrated to Facebook.

One of the most popular memes about Yovanovitch’s finances on Facebook gives a lower estimate. It says: “Someone needs to ask Maria Yovanovitch how she amassed a networth over $6.4 Million with a $124 K salary? Always Follow the $$$”

It’s unclear what that appraisal is based on, but, according to her financial disclosure, it appears that most of Yovanovitch’s wealth is in either real estate or investment funds.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here.

Sources

Yovanovitch, Marie. U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. U.S. Department of State. Accessed 19 Nov 2019.

Yovanovitch, Marie. Public Financial Disclosure Report. U.S. Office of Government Ethics. 28 May 2019.