Fake gang rape rumours spark police investigation in Mile End

Campaigners believe scams should be included in Online Safety Bill (Tim Goode/PA) (PA Archive)

A fake gang rape scare sparked a police investigation after women in Tower Hamlets were warned not to go out alone.

Allegations spread like wildfire on local community Facebook groups claiming that a series of gang rapes had taken place in a Mile End car park.

The now-deleted post claimed, “women and girls of all ages” were being attacked in a car park behind their flat in a series of seven gang rapes.

It said: “It doesn’t matter if there are two girls etc, they are still being attacked.”

The poster claimed police had knocked on her door and told her women should not be travelling alone but in groups of at least three after 6pm.

But Tower Hamlets police publicly dismissed the claims saying, on Twitter, “they were not true and raising unnecessary concern.”

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In emails seen by The Standard, police officers were sent to the area to reassure residents following the claims.

Local Councillor Andrew Wood told the Standard: “It has sparked work and a number of email exchanges by official bodies but worse was the number of women who saw it and became really worried about it.

“Some then contacted me and it has also been shared widely across Facebook and WhatsApp.

“It is possible they heard something or there was an incident but how that became seven gang rapes, I do not know. I worry more about the cry wolf problem now, that a woman will report something accurately and not be believed. So people need to check first before they post such alarming claims.”

The fake message came days after primary school teacher Sabina Nessa was found murdered in her local park.

He will appear at Willesden magistrates court on Tuesday charged with murder.

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