RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - What if the cash-strapped State Police started to raise money by writing more speeding tickets? As far as fundraisers go, the idea is upsetting to many people.
This weekend, it appeared as if something top secret on that very subject was revealed on social networks. But the authorities say this so-called "fundraiser" is actually an Internet hoax.
A lot of drivers think they can go just a few miles-per-hour above the speed limit, and not get pulled over. So it was alarming to see -on social networks like Twitter- news of what appeared to be a new crackdown. Starting this week, various postings said anyone who goes five miles per hour above the limit would be ticketed, because the State Police needed to raise $9 million in a month.
Turns out, that was news to the authorities, as well.
"It's a total hoax. It's not accurate. We don't have ticket quotas. We also don't write tickets to make money with State Police," said spokesperson Corinne Geller.
State Police speeding tickets benefit education, not law enforcement, a fact that appeared to be lost on so many who re-posted the mis-information.
"Unfortunately these things perpetuate themselves and starts spreading so quickly, it's almost impossible to get it to stop," Geller said.
According to snopes.com, a site that investigates rumors, the hoax dates back to 2005, and was used in many places including New Jersey and Atlanta. It makes people fear an unpopular money-grabbing quota system. But State Police says it has at least one positive effect.
"If they do slow it down and comply with the speed limit, then hey, maybe we saved a life," Geller said, adding, "Go the speed limit, you don't have to worry about getting the ticket."
It's also made State Police re-think their social media response to mis-information. They call this incident a "hiccup". But their Facebook and Twitter pages will be active, along with their traditional media relationships, in case someone spreads a lie that puts a life in danger.