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Misguided and Phony AMBER Alert Text Messages Popping Up Again' Putting Children at Risk
07/29/2008
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
Office: (503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Oregon State Police (OSP) is again receiving reports of a false Amber Alert being received by some people in the Bend and Willamette Valley areas as a text message on their cell phones. These messages are similar to those reported in April 2008 and there are no active Amber Alerts in Oregon at this time.

 
Numerous Oregon residents have inquired about the text message on their cell phones with an alarming message about two kidnapped girls from the Bend area reportedly with a suspect driving a brown Jeep Liberty vehicle. The message may also be asking it be sent to others.
 
Here is the problem: two girls have not been abducted in Oregon and the AMBER Alert was not issued by Oregon State Police. The text message in question was like one brought to our attention in April 2008 to which OSP sent out three news releases confirming the hoax message was similar to one being received in several states. This text message was determined to be about an actual alert issued in Montana in which the two children had already been safely recovered. OSP worked with the National AMBER Alert Program to provide a consistent national message that could be used by other states experiencing the same text messaging chain.
 
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.

 
"This information is beginning to spread again following a near similar text message shared amongst cell phone users three months ago. 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 advisory 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.
 
"As of today, we have over 400 reasons to be proud of how successful and effective the AMBER Alert System has been in assisting our communities in responding to missing and abducted children," says National AMBER Coordinator Jeffrey L. Sedgwick. "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 at http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/AMBERALERT/index.shtml.