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Issue 123 - January 2012 (2nd Edition) - Page 4

Gang Initiation Warning Hoax - Infant Car Seat Left On Roadside

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Outline
Warning message claims that criminals in the UK are placing infant car seats containing fake babies on the sides of rural roads as a means of tricking potential victims into stopping their cars so that gang members can rape and rob them as part of a gang initiation.



Brief Analysis
The supposed warning has no basis in fact and should not be forwarded. It is not an official police warning as suggested in the message. This supposed police warning is nothing more than a UK variant of a hoax message that has previously circulated in the United States, Canada and elsewhere.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.





Last updated: 13th January 2012
First published: 2nd September 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: Police warning when driving.!!

Crime Management Unit
Bexhill Police Station

Telephone: [numbers removed]
www.sussex.police.uk

Sussex Police Serving Sussex

Even if it doesnt happen to you, it is a warning worth being aware about!

This is not a joke originator was at a crimewatch meeting on 18th and the police requested this was sent out

Worth Passing On!

This is happening now!

Sad, especially if you are inclined to 'help' people...

While driving on a rural end of the roadway on Thursday morning, I saw an infant car seat on the side of the road with a blanket draped over it. For whatever reason, I did not stop, even though I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. But when I got to my destination, I called the Police and they were going to check it out. But, this is what the Police advised even before they went out there to check....

"There are several things to be aware of ... gangs and thieves are now plotting different ways to get a person (mostly women) to stop their vehicle and get out of the car.

"There is a gang initiation reported by the local Police where gangs are placing a car seat by the road...with a fake baby in it...waiting for a woman, of course, to stop and check on the abandoned baby.

"Note that the location of this car seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the person -- woman -- will be dragged into the woods, beaten and raped, and usually left for dead. If it's a man, they're usually beaten and robbed and maybe left for dead, too.

DO NOT STOP FOR ANY REASON!!!

DIAL 9-9-9
AND REPORT WHAT YOU SAW, BUT DON'T EVEN SLOW DOWN.

"IF YOU ARE DRIVING AT NIGHT AND EGGS ARE THROWN AT YOUR WINDSCREEN, DO NOT STOP TO CHECK THE CAR, DO NOT OPERATE THE WIPER AND DO NOT SPRAY ANY WATER BECAUSE EGGS MIXED WITH WATER BECOME MILKY AND BLOCK YOUR VISION UP TO 92.5%, AND YOU ARE THEN FORCED TO STOP BESIDE THE ROAD AND BECOME A VICTIM OF THESE CRIMINALS.

THIS IS A NEW TECHNIQUE USED BY GANGS, SO PLEASE INFORM YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES.

THESE ARE DESPERATE TIMES AND THESE ARE UNSAVOURY INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL TAKE DESPERATE MEASURES TO GET WHAT THEY WANT."

Please talk to your loved ones about this. This is a new tactic used. Please be safe.

Get started NOW -- SEND THIS MESSAGE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES TO BE CAREFUL AND AWARE OF EVERYTHING AROUND THEM SO AS NOT TO BECOME A VICTIM.




Detailed Analysis

©iStockphoto.com/Julián Rovagnati

Infant Car Seat
Claims that violent gangs are luring victims by leaving baby car seats beside rural roads have no basis in fact
This widely circulated message, which purports to be a police warning, advises UK drivers to watch out for a gang initiation technique in which infant car seats that appear to contain a baby are left on the sides of rural roads as a means of fooling drivers into stopping to investigate. According to the message, if people stop to check if the baby is alright, they will be set upon by violent gang members and dragged into nearby woods where they will be beaten and raped or robbed before being left for dead. Many versions of the message contain what appears to be an official endorsement of the warning from the Sussex Police.

However, the claims in the message are spurious. The message is not an official police warning. There are no credible news or police reports that suggest that attacks like the ones described are currently taking place in the UK.

Moreover, The Sussex Police have denied any involvement with the "warning". In response to my enquiry about the baby car seat warning and the egg-throwing warning that accompanies it, a Sussex Police spokesperson noted:
Dear Mr Christensen,

Thank you for contacting us about 2 urban legend emails currently circulating in the UK which seem to be from the Crime Management Unit at Bexhill Police Station. I have spoken to the CMU manager and can confirm that these statements have not been issued by Sussex Police.

Regards,

Police Contact Centre
Communications Department
Police Headquarters
In fact, the message is simply a revamped variant of a similar urban legend that has been widely circulated in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. The following US based version of the message, supposedly endorsed by the Tennessee Department Of Correction, is also currently circulating:
Subject: FW: Driver beware

National Gang Week is starting: This is their new target method while driving on any roads, If you see a baby car seat sitting on the side of the road DO NOT STOP!!!! These are gangs targeting people, especially women, to stop their vehicle to help a baby. They make this baby look as if it has blood on itself or on its clothes, when you get out of your vehicle in attempt to help, the gangs jump out from cornfields or tall bushes. They have beaten women to near death, and then continue to rape them with baseball bats and other torture methods. This is not just a forward of information, it is within our area. If you do happen to see a car seat DO NOT STOP CALL THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY!! Please send this onto everyone you know.

Benjamin F. Bean
State Of Tennessee
Department Of Correction
However, in late 2009, the Tennessee Department Of Correction, issued the following email advisory dismissing the claims in the warning message:
NASHVILLE - An email transmission that is being circulated with claims of recent gang activity cannot be supported by current Department of Correction intelligence. The email appears to have been forwarded by a department employee but is not an official TDOC statement. The email states that gang members are using a new method to target women that involves sitting a baby car seat on the side of a road and attacking women as they approach.

While the TDOC recognizes the gang element that extends to members housed in state correctional facilities, we cannot substantiate any claims made in the recent email transmission. Therefore, the public is advised to use caution when forwarding emails that do not appear to be official documents.
Police in Walla Walla County, Washington have also denied that such gang related crimes are taking place. An August 17 2010 KNDO news article notes:
Gang members are plotting ways to stop your vehicle and rob or assault you. It's what some people want you to think... But police say it's not true.

Emails are circulating around the country telling people about extreme gang activity. We first heard about them through the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office and now some have been sent to our newsroom.

They are usually titled 'County Sheriff's Safety Alert' and what the most recent emails say is to be careful about new gang initiation tactics.

The email goes on to read... 'gangs are placing a car seat by the road with a fake baby in it. Then they wait for a woman to stop and check on it. That's when the woman will be dragged away and beaten.'

Police tell us, this email is not true and it's just the latest in a set of hoax emails surrounding gang activity.
The claims in these hoax messages have similarly been dismissed as untrue by various other law enforcement authorities in the US, including police in Edmond, Oklahoma and Harrisonburg, Virginia. And police in New Zealand have also advised drivers to ignore the hoax emails.

This version of the message tacks on a second warning that claims that gang members are throwing eggs at the windscreens of drivers as a means of forcing them to pull over after which they are attacked by violent gang members. However, this warning is also spurious and unsubstantiated. The egg windscreen attack warning has circulated as a separate and unrelated message since late 2009 and has spawned version set in several countries. As with the infant car seat portion of the warning, I have found no credible news or police reports that support such robbery-motivated egg attacks.

Thus, forwarding this bogus warning will help no one. Sending on such misinformation serves only to spread unnecessary fear and alarm in communities and waste the time and resources of police staff who must answer endless queries from members of the public about the supposed crimes. If you receive this message, please do not forward it to others. And please take a moment to inform the sender that the message is a hoax.

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References
Tennessee Department Of Correction - Email Advisory
Police warn of gang hoax emails
Hoax e-mail singles out Edmond officer
HPD Issues Warning About Gang-Related Texts and E-mails
Police warn against hoax emails
Egg Windshield Attack Robbery Warning




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Issue 123 Start Menu

Pages in this month's issue:
  1. A Special Appeal to Facebook Users - Unauthorised Use of Baby Zoe Chambers Photograph
  2. TalkTalk Service Cancellation Phishing Scam
  3. Facebook Protest Message Against Casey Anthony Book Deal
  4. Gang Initiation Warning Hoax - Infant Car Seat Left On Roadside
  5. What is a Facebook Survey Scam? - Survey Scams Explained
  6. Fake LinkedIn Email Leads to Pharmacy Spam Website
  7. Rihanna Is NOT Dead
  8. Animal Mistreatment Protest Message - Firecracker Put In Dog's Mouth
  9. Hoax - Facebook Will Pay Three Cents Per Share to Help Baby With Facial Cancer
  10. Social Media Driven Hope Barbie Campaign
  11. Unfounded Facebook Rumour - Thierry Mairot Wants to Talk to Children About Sex
  12. Animal Rescue Site Email Forward
  13. Eden Project Recall Of Bracelets Made From Jequirity Bean
  14. Hoax Warning: Lost Child Lure - 'New Way for Gang Members to Rape Women'
  15. 'Switch to Pink Facebook' Survey Scam
  16. Tanner Dwyer Friend Request Hacker Hoax
  17. "Went To The Party" Anti Drink-Driving Message
  18. Bogus Warning Claims KiK Messenger is a Hacking Scheme
  19. Bogus Amazon Shipping Confirmation Emails Point To Malware
  20. Stolen Tibetan Spaniels Alert
  21. Video Of Hero Dog Pulling Another Dog From A Busy Highway
  22. Facebook Message - RIP for Family Slain by Man Dressed as Santa
  23. False Warning - Do Not Add 'Jason Lee' Because Its a Virus