An apparent hoax text message that has popped around the nation today warning of a gang initiation involving a shooting at Wal-Mart has arrived in Medford.

An apparent hoax text message that has popped around the nation today warning of a gang initiation involving a shooting at Wal-Mart has arrived in Medford.

The Medford Police Department, as well as other local law enforcement agencies, have received a number of reports today concerning a suspicious text message that claims there will be a gang initiation tonight at Wal-Mart and three women will be shot.

While the police department takes all threats seriously, there is no information to verify this threat and it in fact appears to be a hoax, authorities here said. Other law enforcement agencies on the East Coast also have received similar reports from citizens today.

News reports on the suspected scam are echoing across the Internet this week, with some reports tracing the false message back to 2005.

Snopes.com, a popular site that tracks the truth of urban legends and Internet rumors, notes similar hoaxes first emerged in 2005 and said black women or women and children would be targeted. This week's round of rumors may have started in Florida, but have spread around the nation.

The Medford police said officers will work with the local Wal-Mart store to ensure the safety of citizens and customers. People who receive the message do not need to contact law enforcement, police said.

— Anita Burke