Stolen Baby Photo Scam is Latest Reason Not to Share So Much

A mother in Utah discovered that photos of her infant daughter were used in a scam to generate money for someone thousands of miles away.

Laura Cardoza told KSL TV in Utah that she shared photos on Facebook showing her daughter Emma’s struggles in the hospital in the first days after her birth.

Though Emma is now 2 years old, Cardoza found out that a young woman in New York had staged a fake pregnancy and birth using the baby’s photos just last month – and even claimed the baby had died, KSL reported.

One image of Emma had text added over it showing a date of birth and date of death, and the New York woman apparently also raised money for a funeral for the baby.

Cardoza only found out about the scam because the New York woman’s father figured out where the photos were coming from and contacted her. Now, Cardoza wants other parents to be aware of the risks of posting your child’s photos or videos online.

“I just wanted to show how she was, and her progress and how proud I am of her … but I guess that backfired,” Cardoza told KSL TV. “I didn’t think that would happen to my baby.”

It’s not clear from the story what privacy settings this mother had on the original photos of little Emma but it’s not difficult to imagine the many ways they could have accidentally become public. And since Cardoza said she wanted to share Emma’s progress, it’s possible that she never tried to make them private to begin with – something that many parents do on a daily basis.

While some commenters on the story said the simple solution is to stop posting photos online altogether, others said the incident wouldn’t make them do anything differently.

“So…this is weird, but how does it hurt the baby?” user cej2011 wrote. “Crazy people are everywhere. I don’t think I’d stop sharing photos with friends and family just because some crazy person might copy the pictures.”

Others disagree and point out that the article’s recommendation to only post photos where a parent is pictured with the child is also flawed.

“Anyone who knows how to use Photoshop could easily edit a baby out of any photo. The only way to truly protect yourself is to not post any pictures or videos of your child online,” vanillatyce commented.

If someone wants to find a photo to use for their own gain – whether it’s of an ultrasound image, belly bump or newborn baby – it’s (unfortunately) incredibly simple and pretty common.

So should parents stop posting photos of their children anywhere that the images could potentially be stolen? Is there even anywhere online that this isn’t a small possibility? And what about the kids – don’t they deserve a say in just how public their faces become?

No longer posting photos might seem extreme for parents who love sharing snaps of their cute kids, but the mother in this story might never know whether photos of her sweet daughter are still floating around the internet with a fabricated name and date of death. It might not be harmful but it’s definitely disturbing – and it’s just one of many reasons to think twice about what you share online.

What do you think? Does the story change your views about sharing photos of your child online? Tell us in the comments.


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