Wal-Mart shooting text message is a hoax

MEDFORD — An apparent hoax text message that popped around the nation Thursday warning of a gang initiation and a shooting at Wal-Mart arrived in Medford, too.

The Medford Police Department, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, received a number of reports concerning a suspicious text message that claimed there would be a gang initiation at Wal-Mart and three women would be shot.

While the police department takes all threats seriously, there was no information to verify this threat and it appeared to be a hoax, authorities here said. Other law enforcement agencies on the East Coast also received similar reports during the day.

News reports on the suspected scam have been echoing across the Internet this week, with some reports tracing the false message back to 2005.

Snopes.com, a popular site that tracks the truth of urban legends and Internet rumors, noted similar hoaxes first emerged in 2005 and said black women or women and children would be targeted. This week's round of rumors may have started in Florida, but have spread around the nation.

Medford police said officers will work with the local Wal-Mart store to ensure the safety of citizens and customers. People who receive the message do not need to contact law enforcement, police said.

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