A heavily-shared image tells of an Amber Alert in which a 3-year old girl has been abducted by a man driving a Canadian car with the license plate 72B 381. Today we’ll look at this rumor.
It’s a long-running hoax.
The story has origins back to 2006 and has been evolving and mutating ever since. First, let’s look at the warning itself as it’s being circulated in 2013:
A little girl, 3 yrs. old picked up by a man driving a gray car, license plate: Quebec 72B 381. Canada. Reblog this. It could save her. The kidnapping is recent so do it, 3 seconds will not kill you. If it were your child.
The story actually has two origins.
2006: Jewel Strong, a 3-year old girl from Georgia, disappeared in the ocean in a rafting accident. She was never found and her family refused to believe that she had drowned.
2009: Jewel’s photo was attached to a fake Amber Alert which read:
EVERYBODY ON MY LIST BETTER POST AT LEAST ONCE
****AMBER ALERT **** 7 YR OLD GIRL *** TAKEN BY A MAN DRIVING A NEWER SILVER TRUCK IN IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO. ** LICENSE PLATE NUMBER… 72B381. *** “PLEASE KEEP THIS GOING!!”. WHAT IF THIS WAS YOUR LITTLE GIRL?
If she was your daughter you would forward it.
Jewel’s photo was eventually dropped from the fake amber alert. As the story spread, it often mentioned varying locations, and at some point the Quebec location was added.
We could find no examples of Quebec plates that match the format of this fake Amber Alert. Notice that the original version said Idaho Falls, but with the same plate number. Since 2009, Quebec plates begin with a letter followed by two numbers and then three letters. Plates from the mid-1990s began with three numbers. It is unclear if Quebec plates ever began with two numbers and a letter as the alert claims. If Quebec plates ever used this format it has probably not been in recent years.
We have heard from readers that other variants have circulated, with a slightly different license plate number or city. One such variant in 2016 places the location as Lexington Kentucky and a license plate number as Q72B381. This version reads:
AMBER ALERT!!! Edmonton, KY little girl 3 years old,picked up by a man driving a grey car,license plate: Q72B381! Put this as your status. It could save her. This kidnapping is recent so do it. 3 seconds will not kill you. If it were your child, what would you do?
This Amber Alert is a long-running hoax. When in doubt, you can always check active Amber Alerts here. Even though sharing these types of alerts may seem like the right thing to do at first, checking their validity first will help slow the spread of fake alerts, which will give real alerts more of a chance to be heard and seen in the initial hours when they matter.
Revised May 30, 2016
Originally published January 2013