Police to probe fake death announcements

July 7, 2010 at 9:47 AM

WASHINGTON, July 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Capitol Police opened an investigation into false reports of the deaths of at least three Democratic senators in the past few days.

Several news outlets received a fake e-mail news release announcing the death of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who was alive and well and attended Independence Day activities, Politico reported Tuesday.

"It was spoofed to look as if it had come from the office," Leahy spokesman David Carle said.

Similar hoax e-mails reported the deaths of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., a member of the Appropriations Committee who recently announced he beat back a form of stomach cancer, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who serves on the Judiciary and Appropriations committees, the senators' offices said.

Similar faux news releases have "also been used against others," Carle told Politico without elaboration.

U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said the office was investigating the hoaxes, but declined to say how many there were or give other details.

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