Email forward claims that 15-year-old Evan Trembley is missing and asks recipients to pass on the message in the hope that someone has seen him.
The message is a hoax and should not be forwarded. Evan is a real person, but he is not missing. Evan himself created the fake alert in 2007 as a practical joke for his friends. The “joke” soon spread far and wide and has circulated ever since.
A mutated version of the hoax claims that Evan is missing from Charters Towers, a town located in north Queensland, Australia.
Subject: Evan Trembley
Staff Sergeant Rick Williams
Wichita Falls Police Dept.
1007 N. Elm St.
Wichita Falls, Texas 76310
[Phone Number Removed]
Please look at the picture, read what his mother says (below), then forward this message on. – Sometimes Internet Reports have produced remarkable results.
My 15 year old boy, Evan Trembley, is missing. He has been missing for now two weeks.
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 he 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: HelpfindEvanTrembley@yahoocom I am including a picture of him.
All prayers are appreciated! ! “It only takes 2 seconds to forward this.
If it was your child, you would want all the help you could get!!
According to this message, which claims to be an Amber Alert, 15-year-old Evan Trembley has been missing for two weeks. The message includes a photograph of Evan and supposedly contains a plea for help from the boy’s distraught mother. It asks recipients to pass on the message to as many people as possible in the hope that someone has seen Evan.
However, the message is a hoax. Evan Trembley is a real child who lives in Wichita Falls, Texas, but he is not missing. In fact, young Evan himself is responsible for this fake Amber Alert. The teenager created the message as a joke and passed it on to some friends. Predictably, however, these friends passed it on to others and very soon the message had circulated far and wide with many recipients believing the information to be true. A summary of a KFDX TV news report about the prank previously available on TexomasHomepage.com noted:
A Rider High School sophomore is paying the price for a practical joke he says got out of hand. Last month, 15 year old Evan Trembley took a phony “Amber Alert” MySpace message and changed the details to make it seem like he was the missing person. He originally sent it to a few friends as a joke but it soon spread via e-mail to inboxes all over the world.
Evan tried to add some credibility to his prank message by creating a fictitious endorsement by one “Sergeant Rick Williams” of Wichita Falls Police Dept. In fact, there is no “Sergeant Rick Williams” and the police department contact details included in the message are incorrect. However, Evan did include his own phone number as part of the fake police endorsement and his family has since received a great many phone calls from concerned recipients of the hoax.
A newer version of the hoax claims that Evan went missing from a property located near the town of Charters Towers in Queensland Australia. Of course, this version of the hoax is as equally false as the original Wichita Falls version.
Unfortunately, Evan’s irresponsible prank is not unprecedented. The text of the message is based on a widely circulated hoax that has seen a number of variants. One of the earlier versions was the infamous Penny Brown Hoax that began circulating back in 2001 and still continues to hit inboxes around the world.
In 2006, another, almost identical, version of the hoax claimed that 13-year-old Ashley Flores was missing. As with Evan Trembley, the Ashley Flores version began as a practical joke but rapidly got out of hand. The message, along with Ashley’s photograph, was soon passed to inboxes all around the world and still continues to circulate.
In yet another 2006 copycat version, another teenage prankster falsely claimed that a boy named Michael Hunt was missing. Although the name Michael Hunt was simply made up for the prank, the perpetrator included his own photograph and a working email address.
It seems clear that the youngsters who launch these pranks generally mean no real harm. However, they do seriously underestimate how far and how fast such messages can spread and they probably never stopped to consider the possible consequences of their little joke – at least until after the message begins to spread uncontrollably.
Such hoaxes are far from harmless. They waste the time of police departments and missing person organizations that must answer endless enquiries about children that are not really missing at all. They can also lessen the effectiveness of real missing child alerts. Before forwarding any missing child email it is very important to check its validity via credible sources such as news, police reports or missing person organizations. And if you do receive one of these false alerts, please let the sender know that the information is untrue and should not be forwarded.
Last updated: 10th January 2011
First published: 27th August 2007
By Brett M. Christensen