The McDonald’s restaurant in the Sheridan Wal-Mart store received a call on Wednesday reporting a missing 4-year-old girl. Store employees immediately notified Sheridan Police and started searching for the girl. Police Officer Dan White says the call was a prank.
The call to Sheridan was a randomly dialed number from a cell phone in Broward County, Florida near Fort Lauderdale. Local authorities conducted a search for the fictional girl until the hoax was verified by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
Hundreds of people reacted by sending an unofficial Amber Alert by text message on their cell phones. White says only law enforcement has the authority to activate an Amber Alert and anyone receiving a text message or e-mail should verify it with police before forwarding the message. Spreading a false alert can do more harm than good in many cases. Amber Alerts may also be verified at the official website.