A Johnson County family says online scammers are stealing the identity of their 11-month old- baby girl battling cancer to collect money online.
The Hazelwoods set up a Facebook page and Go Fund Me to receive support and share updates on Kaelyn's battle with a rare brain tumor. They learned on Thursday someone was using their daughter's image and her story to create an entirely fake online profile looking for sympathy and money.
" They copied and pasted the description I wrote exactly and reused it," said Derek Hazelwood, Kaelyn's father.
The Hazelwoods say a friend messaged them after seeing someone else's Go Fund Me Page connected to a fake Facebook profile.
"If they knew what it was really like to have a kid that had cancer, like, I don't think anyone would do that... Take advantage of people that are going through this," Kristen Hazelwood said.
Kaelyn's mother Kristen reported the pages to Facebook and Go Fund Me then rallied friends to help flag the images. After several hours the fake profiles appear to be down but not before the person behind the account posted one last message, writing "cancer is natural selection. Get over it."
"it shows you the type of person they are that would do something like that," Hazelwood said.
Chris Copeland teaches cyber crime and criminal justice at Tarleton State University. He says reporting fraudulent accounts to social media sites is a good start and adds that families should follow up with police, asking to open an identity theft investigation.
"This is endangering a child or defrauding a child of medical needs. If you can get evidence to a prosecutor they'll take that," Copeland said.
Watermarking photos and restricting who can see your Facebook images to just friends can also help. Avoiding posting publicly at all may be the best defense but for the Hazelwoods it's not an option.
"I wish I could just give you one day in my life and I guarantee you that would change anybody from trying to profit off of this," said Hazelwood.