Fake Amber Alert Causes Confusion

By Camaron Abundes
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- A phony amber alert making the rounds via text message spread faster than a West Texas grass fire, Monday. Police say if it were an actual message you would see it on the news and not on your cell phone.

"Every single media outlet in this region, plus in the entire state of Texas is going to get that amber alert. If there was an amber alert in Dallas, we're going to know about this," said Cpl. Sherrie Carruth, Odessa Police Department.

Cpl. Carruth said the phone lines at the Odessa dispatch were flooded Monday with calls about the bogus message.

"We have calls that actually need an officer's attention. Yet our phone lines are being backed up by people wanting to find out information about something that does not exist," said Cpl. Carruth.

Forwarded messages were once confined to your email inbox, now they are in the palm of your hand with text messages. Diana Lujan was at work at Bath & Body Works in the Music City Mall when she got the text.

"All of a sudden I just get a text, it tells me about an amber alert with two little girls missing, in Odessa," said Lujan, "Everybody started forwarding it to each other at the store."

Lujan says she was confused on Tuesday when she didn't see it in the paper. Police says that's a good indication it wasn't real.

"Check to see if there is a scroll on your local media outlet, if we have something serious in nature everyone in Odessa is going to know about it," said Cpl. Carruth who says the media will know about an amber alert.

Cpl. Carruth says a real amber alert is only issued if four qualifications are met: The child is under 17 and is taken without a parents permission, Law Enforcement believes the child is in imminent danger and they have useful information that will help identify either the suspect or the victim.