The Edmond Sun

February 10, 2010

Hoax e-mail singles out Edmond officer

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A gang-related e-mail message using an Edmond Police officer’s name is a hoax, police said.

Edmond Police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said Edmond Police Sgt. Scott Fees is having to explain to concerned callers that the e-mail using his name is not true, and that he did not send the message.

The bogus e-mail says in part that National Gang Week is starting and gang members are putting baby car seats on top of cars stopped along the roadways to get people to stop to help, and then they are victimized. This is not true, Chu said.

At the bottom of the message, to give it credibility, the sender cut and pasted Fees’ name, phone numbers, fax numbers and the EPD’s address. As a result, Fees has received calls from people concerned about the e-mail, and he has to explain that it is all a hoax and that he has been a victim as well, Chu said.

“It is a shame people will go to such lengths to frighten people and that they would go as far as to cut and paste Sgt. Fees’ name to a hoax to make it look legitimate,” Chu said.

Chu said the department is addressing this issue because an Edmond officer’s information was wrongfully attached to it and the department wanted to make the public aware of the hoax.

Internet users with questions regarding a situation, instead of stopping to help, should call 9-1-1 and let a police officer provide assistance if any is needed, Chu said. This will keep citizens and their families safe, and help will be provided if necessary, she said.

Officials said the hoax serves as a reminder that not everything on the Internet is true, and it is always best try to verify information before accepting it as fact. If the situation were true, it would have been covered by the local press, Chu said.

Chu urged anyone who received a similar message to visit www.snopes.com. This site is helpful in sorting out potentially bogus Internet reports. Chu said she found information on the site stating that the warning was attributed to the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Dorinda Carter, spokeswoman for the TDOC, said the employee who forwarded the message received a written reprimand. Officials still don’t know the original sender, Carter said. The employee coordinates the transfer of inmates between facilities, she said.

In December, Tennessee officials issued an e-mail advisory about the e-mail. The advisory said the message appeared to have been forwarded by a department employee, but was not an official agency statement, officials said.

Carter said she believed this was the first time the agency had to send out this type of advisory. She urged citizens to check the source before they forward information, or to call the related agency to verify the information.

Chu said it is the first time a situation like this has arisen in Edmond.

A search on Google reveals numerous examples of similar hoaxes. Some recent examples include gang initiation threats against women, violent gang initiation at Walmart and a message warning drivers to not flash their headlights at oncoming cars as they could become a victim of gang initiation.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 102