Transgender Big Brother star Rebekah Shelton claims her Twitter was hacked with a fake announcement that she had died.
The Brazilian, 32, who changed her name from Rodrigo Lopes after a sex change in 2014, featured on the reality TV show in 2009.
A statement posted at 1.24am today from her verified Twitter account read: ‘We’re sorry to inform everyone of the sad news that our wonderful and lovely Rebekah died unexpectedly on Wednesday night. We ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this time.’
Ms Shelton has since deleted the message and posted a video on her Twitter page this afternoon to say she had been ‘hacked’.
A source close to the star’s family, who still refer to her as Rodrigo, told MailOnline that her relatives thought she had actually died and were ‘grieving this morning’, but also revealed that some suspect it was a publicity stunt.
The Brazilian, 32, is now called Rebekah Shelton and featured on the show in 2009. Pictured (left) as Rodrigo and (right) as Rebekah on Judge Rinder
Transgender Big Brother star Rebekah Shelton (pictured on Big Brother in 2009 when she was Rodrigo Lopes) claims her Twitter was hacked with a fake announcement that she had died
The source said: ‘This has been very traumatic. Friends and family of Rodrigo have been frantic this morning. Many of us thought he had actually died, especially given past experiences.
‘But we’ve now had contact with him and he’s OK. We don’t know exactly what happens but it seems like it’s all been a hoax, which is extremely upsetting.
‘It hasn’t been ruled out that Rodrigo was directly involved in the hoax for publicity, which would be deeply disturbing.’
Her latest tweet said: ‘I’m not dead!!!!!! Please stop spreading this news!!!!! My lawyer is already working on this and this person who wants to spoil my happiness is going to pay for it!!!!!’
In her video, recorded in a hotel room, she said: ‘Hi everyone, I would like to kindly ask.
‘Please stop spreading this news that I am dead, because obviously I’m not. I’ve been through hell today because someone used my Twitter account to write that stupid status about me.
‘This person can’t accept the fact that I am happy and overcome all my problems and that I am finally living my life happy. I’m on holiday, I’m in Arabia and I’m not dead.’
Ms Shelton’s devastated fans rallied around after seeing the statement posted online.
One commented: ‘God, how awful! I’m so sorry. I remember watching her on Big Brother a few years ago and I loved her personality. And she achieved so much through her transition. This is heartbreaking.’
Another replied to the message and said they would remember her as ‘one of the most loveable BB housemates’.
Ms Shelton’s devastated fans rallied around her after seeing a statement which claimed she was dead – although that has now turned out not to be true
A statement posted from her Twitter account read: ‘We’re sorry to inform everyone of the sad news that our wonderful and lovely Rebekah died unexpectedly on Wednesday night’. It has since been revealed that she is still alive
A third said: ‘So, so sorry to hear this, she was lovely to me on here. Sorry for your loss.’
She recently she made an appearance on ITV’s Judge Rinder where she appeared to try and claim money back for a botched boob job.
Last year, she said she was struggling to cope because she felt so isolated after turning to prostitution.
She said: ‘At one point before my surgery I had to leave home, and for six months of my life I turned to prostitution.
‘So many times I wanted to kill myself because I had no one to talk to.’
Rodrigo Lopes entering the Big Brother house on the 10th series in 2009
She recently she made an appearance on ITV’s Judge Rinder where she appeared to try and claim money back for a botched boob job
Speaking about her surgery in 2014, she told her fans: ‘I’ve had my sex change in Rio with Dr Marcio Littleton.’
She then went on to speak in detail about her new female organ.
She hit the headlines for an on/off relationship with co-star Charlie Drummond in the Big Brother house.
She started living as a woman in 2012. She began by dressing up in heels on nights’ out and wearing friends’ clothes and was advised to live as a woman for a year before making a decision about surgery.