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Utah mom: Baby's photo taken from Facebook, used in out-of-state scam

(Mark Wetzel/KSL-TV)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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WEST VALLEY CITY — Like a lot of parents, Laura Cardoza was excited to have her baby and wanted to share her birth story online with friends and family. But what she didn't know was someone else, living thousands of miles away, had a different story to share.

"I just wanted to show how she was, and her progress and how proud I am of her … but I guess that backfired," Cardoza said.

Pictures and video captured the ups and downs of now 2-year-old Emma's first moments on Earth — and like many moms, Cardoza shared them on Facebook.

"It was my story of me and my daughter, and all the struggles she went though when she was born," the new mom said.

On Saturday, Cardoza got a message online from a stranger, living more than 2,000 miles away in Syracuse, New York. The man, named Andy, had an odd message to share.

Cardoza said Andy told her, "I have a daughter. She's 23 years old. She faked being pregnant, and apparently she had the baby and the baby died." He said Emma looked very familiar.

"We did research and found out it's your daughter's pictures she's been using," Cardoza said Andy told her. He also said his daughter was using Emma's sweet face for her own personal gain, adding that the woman got money to pay for the imaginary baby's funeral.

Sure enough, when Cardoza looked into the woman's Facebook profile she saw it for herself: a birth and death date plastered across a photo of baby Emma's face.

Now Cardoza wants to share her story, hoping parents everywhere think twice posting any baby photos or videos online.

"I didn't think that would happen to my baby," Cardoza said. "You always think that its not going to happen to you, and it can."

Experts say parents should never post solo photos of their children online — always have someone else in the photo with them. They also suggest checking your Facebook privacy setting every three months to make sure you're only sharing with the people you want to.

For more tips on keeping your photos and video safe online, check out the Safety Tips and Advice section on www.connectcafely.org.

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Nicole Vowell

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