Fake scam puts community on high alert

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:18 am Published: 1/24/2013 6:41 pm

A social media post about a scam involving an elderly woman needing help has gone viral on Facebook.
The post reads:

Several friends have posted that there's a strange lady going around Oneta acting like she's hurt and crying. Do not help her.... 2 men with her will beat you up and try to steal from your home. There has been 3 homes already stolen from. This is happening around around Oneta and 91st St. area. Spreading the news!

FOX23 learned Thursday it was a hoax. People who live nearby weren’t happy to hear someone was lying about it.

"It frustrates me that people would even put that up there, chasing something that is just a hoax," said Melinda McLane, a concerned neighbor.

"I just don't understand why they'd do something like that," said another neighbor, Don Watkins.

Both were very upset. The post on Facebook had many people on edge. Broken Arrow Police and the Wagoner County Sheriff’s office were receiving phone calls trying to find out if the people were arrested.

"This is our neighborhood. I hate the fact that anyone would post something that isn't true or in this case turns out to be a hoax," said Watkins.

He told FOX23, this is why his family doesn't use social media.  One of the hoax posts was shared 82 times.

“To see them have to waste time, energy or funds on ruling down a hoax isn't to anybody's advantage in Wagoner County," the father said.

Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert wasn't available Thursday for an interview, but did tell FOX23 by phone he did have a deputy look into the allegations. Colbert says the deputy never found a victim or any suspects, which led him to believe it was a hoax.

"There could be people that die because of things going on," said McLane.

There was an attempted break-in at her home.  She says the efforts of deputies could be used to catch real criminals if they weren’t investigating fake ones.

"They have to do a lot more work on a hoax because they have to find out where it's happening," said McLane.

"Wagoner County has very limited resources and so for them to have to have to waste those resources on a hoax,” said Watkins. “To me that's the worst thing that could happen."

Deputies say bogus instances like this are more frustrating than anything else because they're being taken away from other duties.

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