'New Way Gangs Steal, Rape and Kidnap Girls' hoax spreads on Facebook

Filed Under: Facebook, Social networks, Spam

Facebook users are innocently sharing advice with their online friends about how women can avoid being kidnapped and raped, not realising that they are perpetuating a hoax.

Here's a typical message that is being shared, which comes attached to an image of a young woman gagged and tied up in the trunk of a car.

Kidnap warning spread on Facebook

PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

This message is for every Girl Who Goes to college or office alone.If u find any child carrying on road showing his/her address n asking u to take him/her to that address,take that child to police station n plz don't take it to that address . IT IS A NEW WAY GANGS TO STEAL,RAPE and KIDNAP GIRLS .plz circulate to all .don't feel shy to copy This as ur status .
OUR ONE MESSAGE MAY SAVE A GIRL

A different version reads:

ATTENTION ALL GIRLS AND LADIES: if you walk from home, school, office or anywhere and you are alone and you come across a little boy crying holding a piece of paper with an address on it, DO NOT TAKE HIM THERE! Take him straight to the police station for this is the new 'gang' way of Kidnap and rape. The incident is getting worse. Warn your families and friends. Repost this please!

So, are rapists really luring victims by using young children who appear to be lost?

Young girl crying. Image from ShutterstockNo, says Snopes, which reports that the warning has been spread on the internet since at least 2005.

Snopes further reports that despite scouring media reports, they managed to find no confirmed cases of such a technique being used by attackers.

It therefore feels right to file this warning under the title of "baseless scare", and ask Facebook users to stop sharing it with their friends.

You can read more about the hoax on the Snopes website.

If you use Facebook and want to get an early warning about the latest scares, scams and internet attacks, you should join the Sophos Facebook page where we have a thriving community of over 160,000 people.

Image credit: Young girl crying from Shutterstock.

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12 Responses to 'New Way Gangs Steal, Rape and Kidnap Girls' hoax spreads on Facebook

  1. Guest · 958 days ago

    "It therefore feels right to file this warning under the title of "baseless scare", and ask Facebook users to stop sharing it with their friends"

    Playing into the hands of the rapists!

    • Similarly if we told people to stop warning each other about aliens abducting rednecks to Mars by waving around buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, we'd be playing into the hands of aliens?

      Read what Snopes has to say - no-one has come with any evidence that this is a genuine problem.

  2. Jason · 958 days ago

    What is the security risk here? I don't see the relevance to this blog.

    • We often write about hoaxes and chain letters, and the danger of communities spreading bad advice without researching the truth of the matter.

      Many users view such hoaxes as spam, even when there is no one making commercial gain.

      • Alain Casault · 958 days ago

        Agreed.

        Although the underlying story line isn't IT security per say, it's a way to abuse infrastructure and often limited resources.

        This story is also one amongst MANY others used to educated less tech savy people about the ways of using our IT tools properly and not getting fooled.

        Be it this story or another about 15M$ waiting for you in Africa, if an elderly person can learn from it and not get riped off, then this post was usefull.

  3. Kristen N · 958 days ago

    Although I understand you're reasoning, I'd like to point out that this particular scam at least gives good advice. Definately take any lost child to the authorities. I believe though that aliens are more frightened of Popeye's chicken than the Kentucky fried variety, should you ever need that protection Lol.

  4. Phil · 899 days ago

    I have to agree with Kristen, it is pretty harmless, in fact it is good advice. While I had a funny feeling it was a hoax, I also had a thought, how would I know? How many rapes are not reported to police, but just spoken about amongst friends? And anyway, how lousy would you feel if some rapist thought, 'well thats a good idea' and used the concept a week after you posted, 'don't worry, its BS'?

    • Banquo · 116 days ago

      I was thinking the same thing about a"copycat" crime for a crime that hasn't been reported to have actually occurred. But, still.....who comes up with this stuff and why?

  5. chan · 825 days ago

    It's not harmless. I've received many e-mails forwarding this kind of stuff from scared moms, sisters, daughters, grandmas and aunts. They believe this stuff and then forward the messages to everyone. There is no problem and yet I know for a fact some of my relatives live in fear because they believe fake cops are pulling over women at night, lost children are actually luring them into the trunk of a rapist, the guy broke down on the of the road is a rapist...it's not harmless.

  6. Meila · 806 days ago

    To be honest, you would have to be pretty dumb to believe this.

  7. Mick A · 699 days ago

    But that's the whole point, there ARE millions of people who are sufficiently dumb to believe and forward this drivel. That's why some 'dumb' people fall for hoaxes telling them that some African wants to share millions of dollars with them just because they happen to have the same surname as someone killed in an air crash, and 'dumb' enough to believe that the huge tattooed beer swilling fraudster asking them for money is actually a gorgeous brunette who's mother needs £100,000 for a life saving operation. It's all about people's security, well being and safety. Just because you're dumb, doesn't mean that you're not a victim.

  8. guest · 252 days ago

    Snopes is very biased. Never report that you are using snopes as your source of reliable information. I have seen many reports with false information, especially regarding politicians, snopes will completely disregard what all the major news sources are saying and make up their own version of events.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.