Police investigate false STD notification letters

Fake health missives say recipients have unspecified disease

April 17, 2008|By John Fritze

City police are trying to determine who mailed fake letters on city stationery telling the recipients that they're carriers of a sexually transmitted disease, health officials said yesterday.

Rianna Brown, a spokeswoman with the Baltimore City Health Department, said the city had received three complaints from residents about the letters, but they do not know how many more letters were mailed.

The letters, which carry the health department's letterhead, tell the recipient that his or her name was provided by a patient with an unspecified sexually transmitted disease and encourages the recipient to call a public health agent.

Fearing further dissemination, the city did not release a copy of the letter.

Health officials noted that the department does not employ "certified public health agents" referenced in the letter and that the letters incorrectly refer to the state health department. The agency is called the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

City residents who receive letters in the mail about STDs should call 311 and ask for the department's STD program or call the STD program directly at 410-396-4448.

The letters are similar to a hoax almost a year ago in which notices were mailed to Fells Point residents suggesting that a curfew would be imposed from 2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. to quell violence. Those letters were printed on city letterhead and included Mayor Sheila Dixon's signature.

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