This study explores the factors that influence the dissemination process of and public susceptibility to fake news amidst COVID-19. By adopting a qualitative approach that draws on 21 interviews with social media users from the standpoint of source credibility and construal level theories, our findings highlight motives of news sharers, platform features, and source credibility/relatedness as major factors influencing the dissemination of and public susceptibility to fake news. The paper further argues that public susceptibility to fake news can be mitigated by building an integrated approach that combines a tripartite strategy from an individual, institutional and platform level. For example, educating the public on digital resilience and enhancing awareness around source credibility can help individuals and institutions reflect on news authenticity and report fake news where possible. This study contributes to fake news literature by integrating concepts from information management, consumer behaviour, influencer marketing and mindfulness to propose a model to help authorities identify and understand the key factors that influence susceptibility to fake news during a public crisis such as COVID-19.