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Misguided and False Amber Alert Text Messages Showing Up Again
02/09/2009
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Link to audio file on this news release:
http://www.flashalert.net/flashbite/1002/950268425.mp3
 
For the third time in less than a year, Oregon State Police (OSP) has received reports of a false Amber Alert being received by some people as a text message on their cell phones. Today's message is like to those reported in April and July of 2008 and is similar to a hoax text messages reported today in Utah, Maryland, North Dakota, Idaho, and Alabama. There are no active Amber Alerts in Oregon at this time.

 
Earlier today, information was received from the U.S. Justice Department advising about a text message being received on cell phones with an alarming message about a 7-year old kidnapped girl in a silver vehicle displaying unknown state license plate 72B381. The earlier information indicated it may have been either out of Arizona or Idaho Falls, Idaho. Law enforcement was contacted in both states confirming they did not have active AMBER Alerts. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was also contacted and they were not aware of any active AMBER Alerts. The message appears to be a hoax.

 
The problem with this recent text message as with the previous incidents are that there are no active AMBER Alerts in Oregon. The text message in question was like two brought to our attention in April and July of 2008 to which OSP sent out news releases confirming these as hoax messages similar to others being received in several states.
 
Oregon State Police Lieutenant James Rentz, Oregon Amber Alert Coordinator, is very concerned about these false text message alerts and warns the public to only respond to AMBER Alerts from authorized sources.

 
"As with the previous hoax messages, this information is beginning to spread again. Receiving AMBER Alerts from an official source provides initial notification, updates, and a cancellation. AMBER Alerts from unknown sources could lead to a delayed response from the public and jeopardizes the integrity of the entire AMBER Alert plan. Forwarding text messages can circulate indefinitely without a cancellation, so don't forward this message if you receive something similar without knowing it is a confirmed AMBER Alert" said Rentz.

 
Lieutenant Rentz stressed that if one receives a text message or email about an AMBER Alert and wants to confirm it the first thing they should do is watch their local television station or check online at www.oregonamberalert.com.  If in a vehicle, Rentz said to look for highway signs and listen to the radio.
 

Oregon's AMBER Alert Plan sends alerts out through radio and television, highway advisory signs, email and to wireless subscribers who opt to receive the text messages on their wireless devices. More information about wireless AMBER Alerts, how it works and what text messages look like, and how to sign up free to receive AMBER Alerts by text is available at www.wirelessamberalerts.org.
 

This recent text message is the latest example of other misguided and even fake AMBER Alerts reported around the country. Many of these so-called AMBER Alerts that circulate by text message and e-mail involve cases that have already been resolved or were outright hoaxes.

 
The Amber Alert Plan is a critical missing child response program that utilizes resources of law enforcement and media to notify the public when children are kidnapped. Speedy distribution of information is key when trying to locate abducted children, but false information can impact the program's effectiveness and the public's confidence. Maintaining a solid reputation by guarding against the spread of misinformation is vital to our continued success.

 
More information about Oregon's AMBER Alert Program is available on the OSP website.