Be wary of Lowndes letter hoax

Published 3:30 pm Monday, February 22, 2010

A letter warning of gang initiation, thought to be issued by the Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency, was determined to be a hoax by county officials.

Some citizens throughout Lowndes County received what appeared to be “official” emails and text messages on Feb. 9 notifying them the second week in February was “National Gang Initiation Week.”

The notice suggested taking precautionary measures by informing the public to a potential gang initiation method, which appeared to be credible information.

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However, three days proceeding the mailing, Lowndes County EMA Director Walter Hill learned through the Department of Homeland Security the letter was declared to be a hoax.

“This is not unlike previous scares our county has had in reference to such initiations” said Hill.

Two years ago, information received by the EMA in reference to flashing lights was thought to be a sign of gang initiation.

“These are not the kinds of things that can be taken lightly,” said Hill. “As we’ve seen with the 9th grader in Madison who was arrested for a shooting. That was said to be gang related.”

According to Hill, accurate and updated information was provided to residents throughout the Lowndes County area acknowledging the hoax.

“We appreciate the citizens’ awareness and vigilance throughout this ordeal and encourage future efforts to disprove any such information,” said Hill.