Minneapolis Residents Receive Phony HIV-Status Confirmation Letters
Dozens of people in Minneapolis, Minn., have received phony letters from the mayor's office indicating that they were HIV-positive, and encouraging the "patients" to talk to the news media about the disease, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. While Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton's name and office address appear as the sender, the back of the envelopes also showed return addresses of a Target store in Coral Springs, Fla., and Target headquarters in Minneapolis, and the postmarks were also from Florida. Belton's office learned of the situation through constituent phone calls and the return of several letters to the mayor's office due to "incorrec[t] addresse[s]." Ann Freeman, spokesperson for the mayor, said, "Obviously, the mayor had no involvement in this hoax and is quite horrified by it" (Olson, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 11/2). She added, "This is really a vicious kind of mail fraud." Postal Inspector Mike Schaubschlager characterized the incident as harassment and ruled out extortion, mail fraud or other federal offenses. The sender of the letters and the motive remain unclear, and the letters have been turned over to the FBI (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.