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Michael Hunt Missing Child Message

Summary:
Email message claims that a fifteen year old boy named Michael Hunt is missing from Longs South Carolina.



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, June 2006)
Subject: help

please look at the picture, read what her father says, then forward his message on.

Help! This boy went missing 2 weeks ago(5/7/06).

Picture removed

If you repost this then maybe someone will recognize him. Please pass this to everyone in your address book. We have a store manager (Wal-Mart) from Longs, SC who has a 15 who has been missing for 2 weeks. Keep the picture moving on. With luck on his side he will be found. "I am asking you all, begging you to please forward this email on to anyone and everyone you know, PLEASE. My 15 year old boy, Michael Hunt, is missing. he has been missing for now two weeks." It is still not too late. Please help us. If anyone any where knows anything, please contact me at: [Removed] I am including a picture of him. All prayers are appreciated!!

It only takes 2 seconds to forward this. If it was your child, you would want all the help you could get.




Commentary:
This email forward claims that a fifteen year old boy named Michael Hunt is missing from Longs, SC. However, the text of the message is virtually identical to a long running email hoax that claims a child named Penny Brown is missing. It appears that someone has simply replaced the name "Penny Brown" with "Michael Hunt", altered a few details, and added a photograph of a teenage boy. The perpetrator apparently forgot to change one reference to the missing child's gender when reworking the message ("please look at the picture, read what her father says").

An enquiry for more information sent to the email address included in the message received the following response:
haha I put up my own picture and changed the name from I don't know what... Hello... michael hunt... Mike... hunt... say that ten times fast. :) I'm nice... don't judge me... God bless... Hoorah!
This person obviously thinks that sending around this sort of nonsense is funny or clever. In fact, such antics are irresponsible. That said, after further correspondence with the perpetrator, I'm convinced that the person responsible meant no real harm, so I've removed any information that might identify him.

More recently, someone used the Penny Brown message as a template to perpetrate another version of the hoax claiming that a teenager called Ashley Flores was missing. The Ashley Flores message has spread rapidly across the world and apparently started as a joke played by a friend of Ashely's that spiralled out of control. The hoaxster may soon find that his little "joke" has spread much, much further that he intended.

Even without the admission of guilt, the similarity to earlier hoaxes is enough to conclude that the Michael Hunt version is also a hoax. And just for the record, there is no mention of a missing teenager named Michael Hunt on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website nor could I locate any news articles about such a case.

If you receive this message, or any of its predecessors, please do not forward it to others.

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References:
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Penny Brown Hoax
Ashley Flores Missing Child Hoax

Last updated: 1st December 2009
First published: 28th June 2006

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen