Office of Justice Programs AMBER Alert - America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response

Missing Children E-mails and Hoaxes

Many e-mails about missing children have been circulating in the past several years. Most of them are either hoaxes or contain information that is no longer true. The information is usually based on real cases, but provides minimal descriptive information with no information to contact law enforcement. E-mail notification is not included as a specification of the AMBER Alert plan.

If you receive an e-mail about a missing child, take a few minutes to verify that the e-mail is valid. Forwarding these types of e-mails, even though the intention is good, is not a good idea, as it can frustrate real search efforts and can become a nuisance after the case is closed.

Common Traits of Hoax E-mails

  • Contains little useful information, usually just a picture or name of the child.
  • Fails to include common descriptive information, such as:
    • Where the child is missing from
    • When the child went missing
    • Physical description of the child and what the child was wearing at the time of the disappearance.
  • Appears hastily written and is plagued with spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Fails to provide a clear way to contact local law enforcement agencies or missing children organizations.
  • Offers links to unrelated Web sites.
  • Calls for reader to forward the message to “everyone you know.”

Common Missing Children Alert & Hoax E-mails

Below are listed some commonly know e-mails and hoaxes. Although persons listed as hoaxes may actually exist, these e-mails are known to be hoaxes.

  • Penny Brown (hoax)
  • Nicholas Farber (safely recovered)
  • Ashley Flores (hoax)
  • Briana Hennigan (safely recovered)
  • Shawn Horbeck (safely recovered)
  • Kelsey Brooke Jones (safely recovered)
  • Jessica Koopmans (found deceased)
  • Christopher John Mineo (hoax)
  • Andrea Montoya (safely recovered)
  • Ashlyn Starkies (safely recovered)
  • Krystava Patients Schmidt (safely recovered)
  • Yohana Ravelo (hoax)
  • Rachel Smith (found deceased)
  • Raechelle Smith (still missing)
  • Jewel Mahavia Strong (presumed deceased)
  • Evan Trembly (hoax)
  • Danielle Van Dam (found deceased)

Ways to Verify Missing Children E-mails

How to Receive Actual Missing Children Alerts

  • Wireless AMBER Alerts - receive wireless phone alerts of missing children.
  • Missing Kids On-line Alerts - a free program to download and use that instantly notifies you of missing-children alerts issued by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.