There are numerous horrendous hoaxes flying through cyberspace about missing or abducted children. Perhaps you have personally received one of these hoax type emails.
They look something like the following:
Missing child alert appears in the subject. Next in the body of the email, one will see:
Hi! Please be sure to read this email as it is about a friendís daughter who is missing.
It happened last week. She was playing in her yard, when suddenly she disappeared. She would not runaway, as she loves her family. Then a picture of a child is place in the middle of the email.
Next, it states this is not a hoax or this is real. Then the writer pleads pass this on to all your friends, saying something like if this was your baby you would send it on.
Finally, the end contains a name and number and possibly a listing to a police department. The phone number usually are bogus or lead to an unsuspecting person who suddenly is slammed with hundreds of calls about a missing child the caller has no idea about in the first place.
One of the most famous missing children hoax emails is titled Penny Brown is Missing.
Below is one version circulating since the fall of 2001.
PLEASE LOOK AT PICTURE THEN FORWARD
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, sees anything, please contact me at email@example.com I am including a picture of her. All prayers are appreciated!! It only takes 2 seconds to forward this on, if it was your child, you would want all the help you could get. Please. Thank you for your kindness, hopefully you can help us.
These email missing children hoaxes are designed play on your heartstrings. An emotional agony overcomes the reader who wonders, if I do not pass it on and it is real then I may be the reason the child id not found. The attitude is then to forward the email to everyone we can imagine, including family and friends, and sometimes even business associates. However if the receiver were to take a minute to really read the email they would see how the message is very vague. Before deciding to pass on emails designed to clog up our email systems, the reader can verify whether the message is true by going to the NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) website and do a search on the childís name.
Penny Brown is one of the first missing children hoax emails to circulate through cyberspace, yet she is not the last one. To see more about the Penny Brown Missing Child email hoax and to view other missing child hoaxes, please visit the website Snopes. Snopes is usually up to date on current hoax information. The website will also evaluate an email you feel is a hoax, but may have concerns about.
The person writing the missing children hoaxes obviously never had the emotional trauma of a missing child. These fake emails hamper the effort to find legitimately missing or abducted children. I ask each of you please read any warnings you receive in the mail and think twice before you pass on the internet garbage.
A better idea is if each person reading this newsletter went to the NCMEC website and adopted a child in their heart. Take the time to email that childís link back to the NCMEC website. Print off your childís poster and post it in places like your work or local businesses. Working together, we can pass on real information that might lead to the return of a lost, missing, abducted or runaway child.