Police warn against interacting with posts about missing Surrey boy

21 December 2022
What was claimed

A boy called ‘Andrew Sanders’ is missing in Surrey.

Our verdict

Surrey Police have confirmed that they have received no reports about this boy, and the picture used appears to have been taken from an Australian news report. We’ve seen many similar missing person posts before.

Police have confirmed that a supposedly missing child from Surrey, whose details have been shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook, has not been reported to them. 

Appealing to Facebook users in Farnham, Surrey, the post features a picture of a child alongside the caption: “This is the most recent picture of my son Andrew Sanders his first day of school, he left yesterday morning for school and he never came back. [sic]

“He was last seen wearing black converses with purple and red shoelaces as well as a blue zip-up hoodie, he has dirty blonde hair, blue eyes and he’s about 5’4-5’5 and 124lb.” 

However, an official Surrey Police Facebook page has confirmed that it has received no reports of this case, and urged social media users not to share the post. 

A spokesperson said: “We are aware of reports in a local social media group regarding a missing child from Farnham called Andrew Sanders. We appreciate this has caused concern and would like to clarify that we currently have no reports of a missing child called Andrew Sanders in Surrey.” 

The picture used in the post also appears to have been taken from a November news report about a 14-year-old girl from Australia seeking a bone marrow transplant. 

The Facebook post about the allegedly missing child is phrased almost identically to other posts we have checked before, with the style of the post similar to lots of other fake appeals such as those concerning missing pensioners or found puppies.  

One way of identifying these fake appeals is checking to see whether the comments are disabled, which is often done to prevent social media users from commenting that the post isn’t genuine. We’ve seen a number of instances where these sorts of posts are edited after reaching a lot of people, so they instead advertise surveys or housing websites. 

The post published by Surrey Police said: “There are similar posts in other Facebook groups around the UK using variations on this name and the same photographs. Please do not engage with these posts. Always check official police social media channels for information on high risk missing people.” 

Image courtesy of Richard Bell

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