2/6/06 Stop the Madness!
That is a catchy subject line, isn't it?
I have written about this before, but it was back in August, and it is now buried in the archives. It warrants a re-write as this madness is still happening. I would say that in the last few weeks, I have received at least 3 of these emails. Each one was addressed not only to me, but to a large list of other recipients.
Fake missing persons emails are the problem. The least of the problem is that these fall into the "nuisance email" category, but the worst of it is the time expended on people who are not really missing, nor were they ever missing. In addition, people who find out these are hoaxes may hesitate and not send on ones which are real.
My original post was entitled "Penny Brown is Still NOT Missing" What follows is that posting and an update below that.
No, nothing has changed. Cute little red-haired "Penny Brown" is not missing and never was. This email hoax has been going around for years now.
While no one knows the identity of the little girl in the photo, what we do know is that she was never missing. I'm also sure her name is not Penny Brown, and her parents do not work at Walmart.
Despite the sketchy details given in this hoax email that should tip us off that it is not real, people continue to forward it to everyone they know.
This email has been sent to me so many times, I've lost count. "I thought you should know about this little girl," they tell me. "Can you help her family?"
I explain the Penny Brown hoax. I tell the sender that I would like to see them send an explanatory email back to the person(s) who sent it, and to all of the persons to whom it was sent. My suggested response is as follows:
"The email that you have received or sent regarding missing Christopher Mineo/Penny Brown is an Internet hoax. This child, whoever he/she is, is not missing, nor has he/she ever been missing. I appreciate the fact that you care enough to want to help a missing child and his/her family.
In that same caring spirit, let's use our time and resources to help find people who are truly missing and whose families wake up each day not knowing what has become of their missing loved one.
There are many real missing people featured on the website www.projectjason.org You can also read the real behind the scenes stories of the missing and their families at http://voice4themissing.blogspot.com/
In forwarding true stories and information of the missing, we can make a difference. The next click of a mouse could be the click that helps bring someone home. Thank you."
Let's at least try to put a stop to this email and, better yet, send one that has meaning.
To learn more about the Penny Brown and other missing people hoaxes, please visit http://www.snopes.com/ , click on the "Inboxer Rebellion" category, and then "Missing and Sick Children" or "Missing and Sick Adults" .
On one of the last occasions I was brave and did a "reply to all", I received the following response:
"Who are YOU? I don't care about the missing! DON'T YOU EVER SEND ME AN EMAIL AGAIN!!!!"
Given that response, you may want to just email the person who sent the hoax email, and ask them to inform their email list. I sincerely hope that person never has a missing loved one.
Another common missing child hoax email is the one about Christopher Mineo, JR. Like Penny Brown, he's a cute child and people cannot seem to resist the plea for help, but he is not missing!
These are the direct links to the explantion and history of these hoaxes. Please, stop the madness and inform the person sending the email. Copy and paste my letter (in red) in a reply to them.