A public service announcement

Last week I added four Arizona MPs to the Charley Project who were listed on this site.

On Saturday I got an email from a friend who works with the Phoenix PD. Referring to the aforementioned cases, here is what he said:

Just FYI, I don’t think these are valid cases and the whole website appears to be a bogus one, that steals elements of NamUs and the Maricopa County ME’s website in an attempt to make it look authentic.

I did a little research and did not find these people listed in NCIC, and they do not appear to be real people.

Why this person felt the need to create a whole website about this…..I have no idea……but I figured I’d let you know.

And I thought I’d let the rest of you know. I have since removed the apparently fake cases.

I find the whole thing bizarre. Why would someone go to the trouble to create a fake missing persons site? They went to some effort to make it look authentic; I admit I was totally taken in by it and I’m pretty embarrassed. Did the person do it just as some kind of joke? If so it was Seriously Not Funny.

25 thoughts on “A public service announcement

  1. Ilya April 28, 2014 / 7:23 pm

    Maybe someone is taking a revenge on someone else?

    Just my guess…

  2. forthelost April 28, 2014 / 7:24 pm

    There’s a person on the NCMEC’s new UID page on facebook claiming to have a missing sister. Abducted from her home by a stranger that knocked her mother out. The whole story is probably fake, since there are no news stories about it at all and she can’t provide a case number.

    • Meaghan April 28, 2014 / 7:33 pm

      Was that the person whose personal FB page had a photo of an actress as her mom?

      • forthelost April 28, 2014 / 7:48 pm

        Yes, same one. I didn’t know it was an actress but since I found the whole story suspicious I reversed image searched it.

  3. KEN April 28, 2014 / 8:46 pm

    It appears to be promotion for some kind of movie- or perhaps to secure financing for one. There are a handful of associated sites that all tell the same (fake) story. A few years ago, you may recall, another wannabe filmmaker pulled the same stunt, creating a fictitious missing woman from Texas(?). I think the faux MP was something like Frances Weatherbee. Claimed she disappeared with a bank robber. Hoaxy viral promotion for his film.

    • forthelost April 28, 2014 / 8:51 pm

      I think you’re right. There’s even a fake “news” site.

      • Meaghan April 28, 2014 / 9:02 pm

        Reminds me of the Blair Witch Project.

      • forthelost April 28, 2014 / 9:24 pm

        From the side bar of the fake news site, aliens are involved.

        Would it kill them to put a disclaimer somewhere?

    • Meaghan April 28, 2014 / 8:54 pm

      At least the Francis Weatherbee dude issued corrections when he realized people thought the case was for real.

      • forthelost April 28, 2014 / 9:29 pm

        She was even on Doe at one point.

    • Peter Henderson Jr. April 29, 2014 / 5:31 am

      Thanks Ken. I was taken in by the Huffington Post article about Francis Wetherbee, sort of.

      “The Hook — Or You Can’t Tell A Book By It’s Cover

      Case Type: Missing – Maybe?

      By Peter J. Henderson. Jr.
      October 12, 2010

      Today was the first time I had ever heard about the disappearance of Francis Wetherbee. I did what I always do when first learning about a missing person case, I checked the Charley Project files for a summery- Francis wasn’t there.

      Nor was she on the Doe Network or the North American Missing Person’s Network. She wasn’t even on The National Center For Missing Adults, the organization mentioned in the Huffington Post article.

      A pretty young bank teller is taken hostage, manages to escape, then a few weeks later vanishes, but there is nothing online about her, not even some old folk tale? Strange.

      But I figured it happened in 1974 and this case was probably lost on the dusty shelves of some county sheriff’s office. It would not be the first time that has happened..

      In a few weeks I will be posting about another pretty young woman from Texas who went missing on November 1, 1975. Her name is Phyllis Berry and there’s not much out there on her either.”

      I then went on to post possible scenarios as to what could have happened to Francis I should have, but never checked back to see if the story was fact or fiction. Thanks for educating me, even if it means I have egg on my face.

  4. Kat April 28, 2014 / 9:18 pm

    MP’s are a hot button issue, as well as a source of curiousity (can’t get that spelling right) and voyeurism. It would be very easy to fake stuff just to get attention. If it was a movie thing, then it was in very poor taste, not only in subject matter but the potential damage it could do to real cases. I seem to remember the “movie” bit playing a part in other things, car accidents, etc, and now it is art to film a child being “abducted” or approached in the name of educating all of us masses. Since you wasted time posting these cases, I’m glad it all came to light. But really, some people have too much time on their hands.

  5. zinc April 28, 2014 / 11:12 pm

    I’ve run across that same Maricopa Missing site more times than I can count but never looked at it for more than a few moments, since I assumed it was another friend/relative/pseudo-official “organization” MP site. The fact that the site seemed to have directly ripped off old-style UDRS/NamUs files just seemed to point that up further.

    The UDRS/NamUs formatting is either direct or so close that I’d wonder if the site couldn’t be DMCAed (taken down due to IP theft). If it is a promo site, I’d think it has to be the work of a young amateur who’d be clueless enough to steal DOJ content without thinking, especially since both sites have that typical only-half-put-together, semi-abandoned look.

    Annoyingly irresponsible, in any case.

    • forthelost April 28, 2014 / 11:56 pm

      They’re actually from the URDS system, copied. Which makes no sense since they’re missing people.

      There’s a site that blatantly copies the NCMEC’s source code that hasn’t been DMCAed, so I’m not sure this one would.

      • zinc May 1, 2014 / 7:13 pm

        Someone first has to go to the trouble of sending a takedown request or cease-and-desist to the host/ISP of the offending site. It may be that no one in the right department at NCMEC is aware of the ripoff, or (more likely?) that their legal team doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble.

  6. Mion April 29, 2014 / 4:41 am

    Weirdly enough, in the ”Case Details” section, there’s information on a body that matches the Mitchell Adams guy’s description. The body’s probably made up, too.

  7. Mion April 29, 2014 / 4:49 am

    Reading the comments here, I agree that it’s probably a setup for a movie or book or something.

    Here’s another site about the four ”missing” men. The owners claim to be the mothers of these guys and it has more details about the case: http://www.phoenixincident.org/default.html

    An article in the ”news” section has info on an escaped fugitive who committed suicide through self-immolation (http://www.phoenixincident.org/news/default.html). This is probably the antagonist of the story. DUN DUN DUUUN

    • Tatertot April 30, 2014 / 6:54 am

      That supposed news organization reporting the fugitive’s suicide, KWBV News, has a faaaake website: http://kwbvnews.com/all-you-need-to-know/kwbv-news-archive/
      It’s like they didn’t even try to look legitimate. The MP site is in incredibly bad taste considering there are numerous grieving parents out there who really have lost their children.

  8. Miranda April 29, 2014 / 1:00 pm

    I have been a frequent visitor here for about 2 + years and wanted to make my presence known. I pass my free time at work reading this site. Anyways….When you posted these 4 missing guys I was intrigued. What I thought was odd is that the report says the guys were off-roading. If that’s the case, where was their off road vehicle(s). Didn’t make sense to me. Thanks for letting readers know that this was fake. I can’t believe someone would take the time to do this. I did a Google image search to try and find out who the real guys in the picture are but had no luck.

  9. Agnes May 1, 2014 / 4:58 am

    Worst is, if you call their phone number they really pretend to be a legitimate organisation. 😦

    • Meaghan May 1, 2014 / 6:13 am

      That is disgusting. I can’t think of any laws they’re breaking, but I wish there was some way to shut them down.

  10. Nathalie May 1, 2014 / 8:11 am

    Dear Meaghan,

    When I first mentioned the Arizona Missing Database Maricopa County: Long Term Unresolved Cases on your website on 10 December 2013, I was not under the impression that it could be a fake law website. I thought it was a genuine one. Although, I did found it strange that I could not locate any reference of the four missing men on Namus or the Doe-network or on any other legitimate missing person website. Therefore, I asked at the end of my comment if anyone had more information about the specific case.
    Luckily, Meaghan, you have friends everywhere who can warn you if a missing person case is genuine or not. On the bright sight, the website is now mentioned on your website and everybody searching for more information about this case now knows it is a bogus missing person website (and trust me, there were and are a lot of people who were and are under the impression that it was a genuine missing person website). Moreover, on 26 April you wrote about what the Charley Project could do. Maybe you could start a section with “bogus missing persons’ files”. You never know how many more are out there on the internet.

  11. Dan May 15, 2014 / 6:19 pm

    If you’re not aware of what you’re looking for, the sites all look disparate and somewhat convincing. But the Heaven’s Gate tie-in and notorious serial killer, who escaped from ADX Florence, then killed himself by self-immolation seems hard to believe. Really, escape from the highest security prison and no one would be raising a notice of that? “Nah, don’t tell anyone he escaped, it would make us look bad.”

    And under the “Blogs I Follow” section, this is the first one. So someone should get a credit if the movie is made.

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