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Carissa Malanitch Missing Child Hoax

by Brett M. Christensen

According to this email forward, thirteen-year-old Carissa Malanitch is missing.

The message, which includes a photograph supposedly showing the missing teen, asks that recipients forward the email to as many people as possible in the hope that someone has knowledge of the girl’s whereabouts.

It includes an email address that supposedly allows recipients to contact Carissa’s mother if they have any information about the “missing” teen.

However, the claims in the email are untrue. Extensive searches of news and missing child databases have failed to find any information about a missing teen called Carissa Malanitch. In fact, the email is just the latest incarnation of a “missing child” hoax that has been circulating for several years. One of the earliest versions of the hoax email claimed that nine year old Penny Brown was missing from Longs, South Carolina. As the following example shows, there are strong similarities between the Penny Brown variant, which began circulating in 2001, and the Carissa Malanitch variant included above:

Maybe if every one passes this on someone will see this child, that is how the girl from Stevens Point was found by circulation of her picture on tv. The internet circulates even overseas South America, and Canada etc. Thanks Please pass this to everyone in your address book. We have a store manager (Wal-Mart) from Longs, SC who has a 9 year old daughter who has been missing for 2 weeks. Keep the picture moving on. With luck on her side she will be found. I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. My 9 year old girl, Penny Brown, is missing. She has been missing for now two weeks.. It is still not too late. Please help us. If anyone anywhere knows anything, please contact me at: I am including a picture of her. All prayers are appreciated!!

Since 2001, there have been several other versions of the hoax based on the text of the original Penny Brown message. Unfortunately, some youngsters apparently think it is funny to insert their own name and photograph into the hoax and send it on to their friends. In other cases, teenagers have modified the hoax message to include the name and photograph of a friend and shared it with other friends via email, text messages, and social networking websites. Although these young pranksters probably do not mean to cause any real harm, they tend to seriously underestimate just how far and for how long their little joke messages will ultimately travel.
In 2006, friends of then teenager Ashley Flores inserted her name and photograph into the text of an earlier version of the hoax and sent it onwards. The hoax message asking for help to find Ashley has since circulated the globe and still continues to hit inboxes. Then, in 2007, young Evan Trembley of Wichita Falls, Texas added his own name and photograph to one of the hoax messages and passed it on to a few of his friends as a joke. However, Evan’s ill conceived joke email soon began circulating far and wide and has caused a great deal of embarrassment and consternation for Evan and his family. His “missing” email continues to circulate to this day and has even spawned several other versions, including one that claims that Evan is missing from Queensland, Australia.

The Carissa Malanitch version of the hoax is even vaguer than some of its predecessors. The location where the child supposedly went missing is not listed, nor does the message state exactly when the disappearance took place. Even the contact email address included in the message was apparently made up for the occasion. Originally, the email address did not even exist, but one recipient of the hoax email took the time to create the address and set up the following auto-reply as a means of alerting people about this latest version of the hoax:

Hello. This message is an auto-reply, from someone not related to miss Malanitch. I read the story of the text message at the Urban Legends Reference Pages website, http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/missing/malanitch.asp and decided to try registering the account. To my surprise, it was not already registered. Please take the fact that this email account did not exist when the message was written as a sign that it is a hoax.

It is so far unclear if the blond girl in the photograph is really Carissa Malanitch. Nor is it clear if the person in the photograph is herself responsible for the hoax or if another person has used the photograph and name without permission. What is clear is that no child named Carissa Malanitch is currently missing. Forwarding the email will do no more than clutter inboxes and waste the time of police and missing person organizations who must answer endless queries from members of the public about these ridiculous hoaxes. Sadly, missing child hoaxes like this one have the potential to derail email campaigns about genuine missing child cases. With so many prank missing child emails circulating, many recipients tend to dismiss emails with information about real cases as hoaxes as well.

If you receive this email or one of its many variants, please do not forward it and take the time to let the sender know that the information in the message is untrue. Always check the veracity of information in a missing child email before forwarding it to others. Genuine missing child cases are likely to be well reported in news stories and listed on police and missing person websites. Email forwards about genuine cases will normally contain details about where and when the person went missing. They will also generally include links to credible information that verifies the claims in the message.


Subject: carissa malanitch is missing

This girls’s mother works in the mall at the thi way experes. Please look at the picture, read what her mother says, then forward this message on. My 13 year old daughter, carissa malanitch, is missing. She has been missing for about 15 hours. Maybe if everyone passes this on, someone will see this child. That is how the girl from Stevens Point was found by circulation of her picture on tv. The internet circulates even overseas, South America and Canada etc. Please pass this to everyone in your address book. With GOD on his side she will be found. I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. It is still not too late. Please help us. If anyone knows anything, please contact me at: Helpfindcarissamalanitch@yahoocom I am including a picture of her.

All prayers are appreciated! It only takes 2 seconds to forward this. If it were your child missing!

Missing Child Hoax

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,