Bogus gang rumor sweeps the nation


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A dangerous -- and false -- rumor has flashed across the country by modern technology as alarmed folks relay it from home to office by computer and fax machines.

The rumor: A gang initiation ritual requires a would-be member to drive at night with headlights off. If you blink your lights to alert that driver, he will follow you home and kill you.

"It is a hoax," said John Joyce, spokesman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "We have nothing at all to substantiate this."

The rumor has been around for a few weeks, but it exploded in a flurry of faxes and computer messages in Florida and California during the past two days.

"It's kind of like one of those chain letters," Mr. Joyce said. "It gets into the wind, somebody passes it on and it moves really fast."

Sacramento police spokeswoman Claudia Evans thinks it "exploded" when a local man put it on a computer billboard Wednesday or Thursday. He had heard it at some meeting, she said. "We don't know where it started, and we doubt anyone ever will," Ms. Evans said.

The rumor surfaced earlier this month in Tennessee. Since then, it has popped up in Illinois, Mississippi, Arizona and Washington.

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