This story was first published on March 31st, 2011
“Amber Alert” message circulating via social media and email claims that a three-year-old child has been kidnapped by a man driving a grey car with the license plate 72B 381.
The message is a hoax. It is not a real Amber Alert and does not describe a real case. Versions of this hoax have circulated since 2009. The message should not be reposted.
AMBER ALERT!!! Edmonton, Kentucky USA little girl, 3 yrs old picked up by man driving grey car, license plate: Quebec 72B 381. Canada. Put this as your status. It could save her. This kidnapping is recent so do it, 3 seconds will not kill you. If it were your child…. what would you want people to do. Just now happening!!!!! please…
This supposed “Amber Alert” message has circulated via email and social media for many years. The message claims that a three-year-old girl in Edmonton, Kentucky has been taken by a man driving a grey car with the Canadian licence plate 72B 381. According to the message, this kidnapping is recent and users should urgently repost the information.
However, the claims in the message are false. It is not a genuine Amber Alert. The message does not describe a real incident. In fact, the message is just one more variant in a long-running hoax that began circulating back in 2009.
Moreover, there are no active amber alerts that relate an incident like the one described in this bogus message.
One of the earliest versions of the hoax message began circulating via SMS and Twitter in February 2009:
AMBER ALERT!! A 7yr old girl was taken from Woodward by a man driving a newer silver truck plate # 72B381, please forward!
Since then, there have been a great many variations of the hoax in which the locality, the type of vehicle used in the supposed abduction, and the age of the kidnapped child have constantly changed. Variants of the hoax message have listed dozens of cities and towns across the United States and Canada as the supposed locality of the abduction.
A 2010 version of the hoax even changed the child’s gender:
A little Boy, 5 years old was picked up by a man driving a grey car, license was plated Washington 72B 381. Copy and paste this as your status. It could save that little boy. This kidnapping is recent! So do it, 3 seconds won’t kill you. We should have Amber Alerts posted in FB automatically from a friend to pass it on!
Yet another version tacked on a photograph of a real missing child, Jewel Strong:
EVERYBODY ON MY LIST BETTER POST ATLEAST ONCE
****AMBER ALERT **** 7 YR OLD GIRL *** TAKEN BY A MAN DRIVING A NEWER SILVER TRUCK IN IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO. ** LICENSE PLATE NUMBER… 72B381. *** “PLEASE KEEP THIS GOING!!”. WHAT IF THIS WAS YOUR LITTLE GIRL?
Three-year-old Jewel went missing, presumed drowned, after a swimming accident in May 2006. However, the fake Amber Alert above has no connection whatsoever with her case. It seems that some heartless prankster has simply added her picture to the hoax in a callous attempt to make it seem more credible.
Police in a number of jurisdictions across the United States have repeatedly denounced the alert messages as hoaxes.
This series of hoaxes is very similar to another, equally false, set of Amber Alert hoaxes that claimed that a three-year-old boy was taken by a man driving a 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse with the number plate 98B351.
Unfortunately, such hoaxes are far from harmless. They waste the valuable resources of police and organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children who must field constant enquiries about the supposed alerts from concerned members of the public.
Sending on such misinformation will certainly not help any missing children and may significantly lessen the impact of genuine missing child alerts. It is very important that people verify the information in any missing child alert before passing it on to others.
If you receive one of these fake Amber Alerts, please do not repost it. And please help to stop its further spread by letting the sender know that the message is a hoax.