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Police say gang-related warning is e-mail hoax

July 13, 2007

Don't believe everything you read.

An e-mail warning currently circulating in the area that cautions motorists of gang-related initiation rites along Interstates 70 and 68 is a hoax, according to the Maryland State Police and the Allegany County Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security.

The e-mail declares that the warning was issued by both agencies. But an intelligence bulletin obtained from the Hagerstown Barrack of the Maryland State Police says the e-mail, which warns motorists not to flash headlights at other vehicles, originated outside the department and has been verified as a hoax.

It claims members of the "Bloods" gang have been ousted from the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area and are expanding their domain into Western Maryland.

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It says gang members posing as hitchhikers and stranded motorists are stealing vehicles from those who stop to help them, then driving without headlights - or with high-beams - until an unsuspecting driver gives them a "courtesy flash," thus becoming a target for a shooting.

The e-mail contains several spelling and grammatical errors, although it said to be from Steven J. Kesner, chief of emergency services for Allegany County. "Allegany" is misspelled in it, as is the word "steal."

The phone number listed for Kesner in the e-mail is correct, but a spokeswoman for the Allegany Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security confirmed that the warning is a hoax.

- Tamela Baker

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