FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fort Smith Police is warning the public of a scam involving missing child posts circulating on social media that are reportedly a hoax.
According to the police department, in recent days, some posts on Facebook have claimed that a female child was discovered walking behind the post author’s home in Fort Smith.
The post reportedly says things such as “Can’t find her parents, my neighbors don’t know her or how she came here,” or “She says her Mom’s name is Wendy Let’s bump this post so it may reach her family.”
FSPD says other cities have reported the same posts with the same picture and text, only the city name changed to fit the jurisdiction. Furthermore, Fort Smith Police says they have not received any calls legitimizing the post.
Fort Smith Police wants to remind the public that posts of this nature require proper investigation, and those resources are better used for legitimate emergencies.
To spot misinformation, look for the following red flags:
1. The information does not come from an official agency or authentic source, news or otherwise. Friends and relatives are not authentic sources for information of this nature, no matter how much you trust what they post.
2. Misspellings, improperly used words, and errors in syntax. The post mentioned above uses the UK spelling “neighbours” instead of “neighbors,” for instance. It is also missing a period (.) after “Wendy”
3. Your first time seeing the post is on a community page of some kind or another form of informal Facebook offering. You cannot find any information legitimizing it from an authentic or official source (see No. 1).
4. The post is not asking you to take the appropriate action or sharing how you can take the appropriate action. In the above instance, it wants you to “bump this post” for a little girl who is missing from her parents or caregiver. A more appropriate and productive response would be to notify law enforcement immediately, so we can use the full scope of our resources to help locate the child’s family.
If anyone has questions, contact the FSPD at 479-709-5000.