Following a fire at a waste storage facility in Pomezia, a historic hoax continues to spread in waves today. Over time, some elements have been lost, making it potentially infinitely iterable. Others have been added to adapt it to the changed current context. What is certain is that the non-existent scam of ASL employees who break into homes to measure fine particles is a hoax.

For those in a hurry:

  • Messages are circulating that armed women, armed with ASL cards, are breaking into private homes in the Brescia region under the pretext of checking levels of fine particles.
  • This is false news that has been circulating for several years and has evolved over time.
  • In 2024 it came back into fashion after the publication of data on fine particles in Italian cities.

Analyzes

Let's see a screenshot of one of the messages being checked. In the description we read a simple “be careful” while the text of the message says:

They go around the apartments under the pretext of measuring fine particles… Unopened, they are armed. They are two women who hold ASL cards. Share copy and paste maximum distribution

The warning has been shared more than 28,000 times but is unfounded. This is actually a hoax that has been circulating for at least seven years and was initially reported by colleagues at Butac. Then the text was slightly different, since the non-existent armed ladies did not act in Brescia but in Pomezia (Rome), near which a fire had broken out in a landfill. As of 2017, authorities had not received any reports of similar activities.

The ASL card (from Brescia)

As reconstructed by colleagues from Do, in May 2017, a month after the channel's initial broadcast, another element was added, namely that women would be in possession of an ASL card. In 2018, the photo of an ASL Brescia employee was added. The local healthcare company had ensured that none of its employees visited homes to check fine particle levels, as reported Brescia today. Furthermore, we read that “the ATS reserves the right to protect its image with the competent authorities” and that “citizens are invited not to encourage the dissemination of such false news”.

The return in 2024

And the latter is the version of the channel which returned to circulation, shortly after the publication of the Legambiente report on the number of exceedances of fine dust limits. Brescia is in fact the eighth city among the cities that have repeatedly exceeded (36) the safety limits in terms of particles in 2024, beyond the 35 days authorized per year. But the end of the year is still several months away.

Conclusions

Messages are circulating that armed women are breaking into private homes in the Brescia area. According to the story, they presented themselves as ASL employees under the pretext of checking levels of fine particles. This is false news that has been circulating for several years and has evolved over time. In 2024 it came back into fashion after the publication of data on fine particles in Italian cities.

This article contributes to a Facebook Project to combat fake news and misinformation on its social platforms. Laws here for more information about our partnership with Facebook.

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