HOUSTON — Laurel Smith is careful about buying anything online. She’s a Houston-based lawyer and prides herself on doing research before making any purchase online.
Then came the day she needed baby formula for her 7-month-old son Walker.
Smith stumbled on a Facebook group of moms helping moms with formula and a post caught her eye.
“It was a picture of a store aisle,” recalled Smith. “She said allegedly that she worked at Target and she could send formula to moms whatever kinds were in that photo.”
In that photo was a brand that Smith fed her son and she messaged the person who posted the picture. They messaged back and forth about shipping, Smith even got a tracking number and sent $80 through Venmo.
The formula never arrived.
“It’s despicable,” she said. “The fact that anyone would do that much less another mom it’s just reprehensible.”
Smith is not alone.
Moms in Oregon, Minnesota and even Pennsylvania have reported being victims of the same woman. Terri Bair just needed formula for her 3-month-old Jace.
“I'm glad that it’s only a total of $22 and 32 cents that I am out,” Bair said. “Other moms were not so lucky. There was a couple of them that had given her over $100, some over $200.”
The Facebook profile these women said lured them in shows a mom with young children in North Carolina. KHOU 11 confirmed that detectives there are investigating. No charges have been filed yet.
Warnings are now up on the Facebook group page. That’s how Smith realized that she had been ripped off.
“I went and checked the tracking real quick,” she said. “It was completely gone, disappeared. Where there was a label created, it was gone.”
At a time when parents are scrambling to find formula, Smith wants her experience to serve as a reminder to be careful.
“I really would have never believed that a mom would scam other moms out of money to feed their kids," she said.
Investigators in North Carolina questioned the woman at the center of this investigation. She claims that she isn’t involved and that her identity was stolen.