Help Find Ashley Flores-Fiction!

Help Find Ashley Flores-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

The eRumor includes a picture and says it is of a 13-year old girl named Ashley Flores who has been missing for two weeks.  She is said to be the daughter of a deli manager for Acme markets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  Another version claims she is missing from Mandurah, Western Australia.

The Truth:

This eRumor started circulating in 2006 and has been one of the most widely circulated emails on the Internet.

It is not true, however.  It is a hoax.

Ashley Flores is real and, at this writing, is alive and well and was never a missing teenager.  The email saying that she was missing was sent as a joke by one of her close friends. knew that it was probably an eRumor because the wording of the email was almost identical to two other widely circulated hoaxes about missing persons.  But the question was who is Ashley Flores, how did this eRumor get started, and who is the girl who is pictured in the eRumor?

We checked with the Philadelphia police department, Acme Markets, as well as several organizations that document cases of missing children and there was no Ashley Flores.

We did find pictures on social networking sites of a girl who looked similar to the one whose picture was circulated with the eRumor and who had the name Ashley Flores.  Following those leads we were able to find the person who actually created the Ashley Flores email and get a little of the background on the story.  That was an oddity because tracking down the creators of some of the biggest eRumors is usually virtually impossible.

Her name is Vickie and both she and Ashley are from Philadelphia.  Vickie told that it all started on when someone posted a bulletin about a missing girl.  Vickie thought it would be fun to replace the picture and the identifying information with that of her best friend–Ashley Flores.  Vickie said she did it with Ashley’s permission and posted it just once on Myspace.  From there it jumped to forwarded emails and the rest is history.  She said she thought that both her and Ashley’s friends would get a kick out of seeing Ashley pictured as a missing person and they all got a chuckle out of it–without realizing how big this would all get.

What impact has all of this had on Ashley?  Vickie said people who had not talked with Ashley for years started contacting her or dropping by her house because of the eRumor.  The police once came to Ashley’s school inquiring about her and that was when Vickie and Ashley explained that the whole thing had been an innocent joke and that nobody was really missing.  She said the police came to seek proof of that.  Vickie told us that in preparation for furthering her education, Ashley had applied to several colleges and that she heard from some of them who thought she was now missing and were wondering what was going on.

Updated 3/15/08