A Deal police car sat outside a home in Monmouth County Thursday.

Other than that, there was very little activity outside the house belonging to Mike and Andrea Kakiashvili, who run a local construction company. A knock on their door by an Asbury Park Press reporter went unanswered.

Their business, Blue Creek Construction, was accused this week – on social media platform “X” – to being tied to a project in Gaza.

This is how the couple responded to it on social media: “Blue Creek Construction just became aware of a post that was shared on social media using our business logo without our permission. We are not operating in the Middle East, we do not support genocide. We are a small family-owned company in New Jersey.”

The post that prompted it came from the “X” account of Younis Tirawi, who identifies as “Journalist | Palestinian Affairs.” (The National, a news website and newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, identified Tirawi as “an activist” in one of its stories.)

Tirawi posted this on Monday: “Coming soon … The luxury neighborhood of Michael Mansions! luxury buildings on the seafront (formerly Gaza). Initiatives and construction M.K-N.J. BLUE CREEK CONSTRUCTION”

It included a picture of men holding a banner announcing the project with the Blue Creek Construction logo at the bottom.

At first glance, it looks fine. But an expert in the field determined it wasn’t a real post.

Doctored photos are common on social media. In May 2023, a photo of an explosion near the Pentagon went viral. It was fake.

The Asbury Park Press ran a reverse image search of the Blue Creek photo claiming to be in the Middle East and came up with no matches. A debate over the photo’s authenticity took place on a reddit post about the soldiers holding the construction flag.

Many were taking the original poster to task for posting before verifying it as true, and they were asking for proof.

None was offered.

“No. They’re a small family-owned construction company that has stated they have zero plans to build or operate in the Middle East and that they don’t support genocide. Stop being so media illiterate you just believe everything you see online,” read one post.

Industry expert Walter J. Scheirer, a professor in the department of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame, saw some flaws in the image posted.

“The most obvious problem with this image is that the message it carries is obviously false,” Scheirer said. “The social media posts indicate that the text of the sign reads ‘Coming soon… The luxury neighborhood of Michael Mansions! luxury buildings on the seafront (formerly Gaza). Initiatives and construction M.K-N.J. BLUE CREEK CONSTRUCTION.’ Gaza is an active war zone, and Israeli soldiers are not carving out beachfront parcels for real estate investors.

“On the technical side of things, this image might have been generated by AI. AI generated images often contain artifacts that don’t correspond to what one would expect in the physical world. What strikes me in this image is the American flag one of the soldiers is holding. The rows of stars don’t match what is on the American flag. The indented rows of stars should contain five stars. But one with six stars is visible.”

Blue Creek Construction’s response

Attempts to reach Mike and Andrea Kakiashvili by phone were unsuccessful, and text messages went unanswered. Both had voicemail boxes that were full and unable to accept messages. The company’s phone number was also not accepting messages.

The company also took down its Linkedin page on Monday. 

The statement, on their “X” account, was their only response.

A new “X” account was created Monday, and multiple times it denied a connection between the New Jersey-based company and the project.

A follow-up post made later Monday said, “Blue Creek Construction will have to change our contact information as a result of this post this morning,” it said. “Please visit this account for our new phone number and email.”

Michael Diamond contributed to this report.