HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – Hartsville Police are fighting rumors on social media of abductions and sex trafficking with a social media post of their own.
On Thursday, the Hartsville Police Department posted to their Facebook page, stating that a post circulating on the Facebook feeds of residents is false. The post in question alleges that men are driving around Hartsville, Florence and Myrtle Beach in white vans, "drugging people and kidnapping them into sex slavery."
Hartsville Police are explicitly stating: "Let us assure the public that this is absolutely FALSE. We have been in contact with most every agency in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand areas and there are no missing persons cases that even remotely match this description."
The post goes on to warn residents about the dangers of sharing unsubstantiated rumors on social media: "Before starting a panic PLEASE research something before you post it. A simple phone call to your local law enforcement agency would have told you that this is not real."
"You have mothers calling 'should I be sending my kids to school? Can they ride their bikes outside?' it created an unneeded panic and we needed to clarify," explained Lt. Brian Rudick with the Hartsville Police Department.
Police took to the same tools used to spread the rumors in order to debunk the modern day urban legend, tracking down the original post online
"Most of these people have good intentions, they want to warn people if its real. But most of these incidents aren't really happening," explained Lt. Rudick.
These claims aren't something police officers take lightly, their investigation didn't stop online
Lt. Rudick explained the department went through records and did not see any cases similar to the one posted online.
"If someone were to go missing within a neighborhood, we would know about it," assured the Lieutenant.
You may recall a similar situation WMBF News reported earlier this week involving a stranger approaching children in a Darlington community. Lt. Rudick explained the two cases are not connected, that the post alleging a sex-trafficking ring in Hartsville is completely fabricated.