Baby item scam targets community

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A mother of newborn triplets in need.

That's the tagline that prompted a handful in our community looking to help a struggling mom. However, what they didn't know is the information about her claim may have been false.

The evidence was compelling; pictures of babies, Facebook conversations, and a story that tugged on the heart strings of people looking to help a family who needed it.

Unfortunately, the mom looking for help didn't even exist.

When Bridget White received her tax return money this year, she decided that the best way to spend it was to help a local mom in need, but it wasn't until after she donated hundreds of dollars in baby items that she found out it was a scam.

“A girl had posted that she was trying to help a friend, who was pregnant with triplets and the story was that they boyfriend had taken all the baby stuff two days after the baby shower, so this mother had nothing," said Bridget White.

Debi McPeek - an administrator on the 'Helping Hands' Facebook group aimed at helping those in need - was asked to post the baby item donation request. Before posting it, she did a little research.

“On ‘Helping Hands’ we do screen everybody, I started asking her questions and the answers were sometimes hard to believe and it kind of threw up a red flag," said McPeek.

Pictures of the alleged triplets in need were posted on the web and McPeek found out they were on a public website.

“She had given me pictures of the babies and so I Google-image searched one of the infants and it came up under a web link for some triplets that are now about 11-years-old and all three pictures of the babies were on that link," said McPeek.

McPeek shared her suspicions with other local online groups and when she did the comments flooded with people saying they may have been victimized by this request for false donations.

When White's daughter heard about the alleged hoax, she filed a police report for her mother.

“We heard that she's been doing it for years and scamming a lot of people and she made some death threats, so I didn't think that was okay," said Holly White.

Now there's a chance White may get her donated items back, but gaining her trust back, may take time.

“It's really sad to watch, such a giving, loving valley, that everybody kind of knew everybody and it's just kind of disappearing," said Bridget White.

The Better Business Bureau has some tips for avoiding scams. They say it's important to be cautious of people you meet online, even if you correspond with them via e-mail or phone and only send money to people you trust.

The BBB also recommends verifying an emergency situation before sending money, or in this case, donations.

Grand Junction Police Department officials believe the woman asking for the donations was using a fake name on Facebook.

Investigators have spoken with the woman they believe was asking for the donations and have collected items related to donations she received. The woman has not been charged with any crimes.

However, police are still investigating. If you donated items and believe you are a victim call 242-6707 to report it.

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