Tuesday, June 18 2013, 09:14 AM MDT
Family's Intimate Moment Highjacked; Used to Scam Others
By Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair
(KUTV) There is a photo going around online that is meant to tug at your heart strings. It is of a young child that is supposedly dying of cancer. But the call came to Get Gephardt from a Utah mom when she saw the photo and quickly realized the picture is of her own kid.
Jackie and Ryan Powell's daughter Savannah got very sick soon after she was born.
“Nine days after she was born she generated the enterovirus,” Ryan says. “[The disease] made her heart the size of yours or mine.”
A photo was taken when Savannah was in the intensive care unit fighting for her life. But that was five years ago. In that time, Savannah beat her illness and is today perfectly healthy. So imagine Jackie and Ryan's surprise when that 5-year-old photo showed up on Jackie's Facebook page with a message.
"Pray for this child it has cancer,” the message accompanying the photo says. And worse, person who posted the photo wasn't just seeking prayers; they wanted money begging for donations to a Paypal account.
The picture has been viewed more than one million times on Facebook. Jackie says she contacted Facebook to report the scam but they would not take the photo down.
“It just didn't fall under their guidelines to be removed and they didn't feel that they could properly say the picture was being abused,” Jackie said.
So to try and keep anyone from falling for this scam, Jackie called me.
2News contacted Facebook on Jackie and Ryan's behalf to ask if there is there anything that can be done to take this photo down. The public relations person did not answer our question directly, but they did ask for a link to the photo and they say they are investigating.
In a statement, Facebook says, "We've built enforcement mechanisms to quickly shut down malicious pages, accounts and applications that attempt to spread spam by deceiving users or by exploiting several well-known browser vulnerabilities." And Facebook says that, when possible, they do prosecute people that use Facebook to rip people off.
As for Savannah's family, even if Facebook does ultimately agree to remove the photo this time, they suspect the crook will just post it again.
“It's out there,” Jackie says. “No matter how many times you try to take it down whoever started it has the photo and can just continue to regenerate over and over again.”
Jackie and Ryan are not positive how the crook got the photo, but they suspect it was stolen from Jackie’s private Facebook page, downloaded by the crook, and then reposted.
(Copyright 2012 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)