A purveyor of fake news who became famous for influencing the 2016 presidential election has died.

Paul Horner, 38, died in Phoenix on September 18, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Casey says.

Authorities discovered Horner dead in bed. His brother, JJ, said he died peacefully in his sleep.

County spokesman Fields Moseley says the cause and manner of Horner's death aren't yet determined. But Casey suggested that there was "evidence at the scene suggested this could be an accidental overdose". There were no signs of foul play.

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Moseley says the Maricopa County medical examiner is awaiting test results. Casey says Horner's family has indicated he used and abused prescription drugs.

Horner was known for his false stories that often went viral and misled people.

In 2016, Horner posted a fake story to several of his sites claiming a former Secret Service agent outed President Barack Obama as a gay man and a radical Muslim, the MailOnline reported.

A key purveyor of fake news, Paul Horner, told the Washington Post in November that he believes the false stories that he planted and which went viral on Facebook contributed mightily to Trump's shock victory.

"Honestly, people are definitely dumber", Horner said. "They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore - I mean, that's how Trump got elected.

"He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn't care because they'd already accepted it.

"It's real scary. I've never seen anything like it".

Horner said he was beginning to regret just how popular a phenomenon his fake news stories became given the outcome of the election.

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"My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time", he said.

"I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don't fact-check anything - they'll post everything, believe anything".

Horner, for his part, said that he invented and planted fake news stories as an expression of "satire".

"All the stuff I write has a moral purpose of targeting things I don't like in society," Horner told The Arizona Republic in a September 2016 interview.