Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When Your Child's Identity is Stolen

Something happened about 2 years ago now, but I'm just now getting around to talking about it. It was creepy, but I realize talking about it could help others. Also, it is the reason I have not posted much in the past 2 years. I have edited all past posts on this blog with a nickname for our son "Mr. Boy" (as my husband lovingly refers to him) and deleted some posts, as well as some information. It's easy to over-share when you're griveing and want sympathy and attention, but this is Mr. Boy's story to tell, so I'll be posting fewer details about him and more general updates. 

Here is the story: I am in a few private groups on Facebook created just for people with Mr. Boy's condition. They have been a major source of comfort, widsom and friendship throughout the years. One day I noticed one of the mothers in this group, "Shonaleah Gillen" had my own son's picture as her profile pic. It appeared she was claiming him as her child. I noticed her in another one of the groups as well when she introduced herself. She had a different fb page just for her supposed son named "Ashton," called "Buddy-Ashton My-Miracle" where all the pictures were of my son, taken from this blog.  She even has a blog where she claims to have a son "Ashton" (creepy right?) with his condition and took bits and peices of our story mixing it with fiction, with my son's pictures posted there as well. It was like reading a middle schooler's plagarized essay, knowing it was copied and the way they copied it shows they have no idea what they are talking about? Like that. It was extremely sickening and scary to see. Legally, unless she is asking people for donations in her fake son's name... there isn't much I could force her to do. 

But this is what I did do: I contacted the administrators of the Facebook groups, to have her removed. I sent her firm messages asking her to remove my son's pictures on both her fb pages and on her blog. I flagged her pages on facebook. (I couldn't take any action against her wordpress blog because there were no copyright infringments). I called our local FBI office and they actually put me through to an agent who took all the info down and sent it to their cyber crimes unit so that they can make sure she isn't scamming people with my son or anyone else's children's pictures and story. Stealing my son's story and identidy just to get sympathy is sad and sickening, but I really wanted to make sure she wasn't trying to raise donations for her fake child, scamming people online. 

Update:  The FBI looked into it, and will watch her so they can catch her if she is or ever does start scamming people. She was removed from our private FB groups, her "Buddy-Ashton My Mircale" facebook page is gone, her personal FB page is gone, but unfortunately the blog remains up, with my son's pictures. 

It was clear she is a sad woman seeking sympathy online for having a disabled child. I get it. the sympathy and attention does feel good when you're depressed and could get addicting. Please join me in prayer for this woman, as it's clear there are deeper issues at play in her life. Someone who would take another child's identity as their own and seek false sympathy, must have been something horrible to get to that place. I hold no ill-will towards her. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. -Ephesians 6:12

This is a sad reality of putting our children's stories online for the public to see. It is hard to balance privacy and being a help to others like us, but please let this be a reminder to all of us that the internet is a scary place, so think twice before you post something about your child.  They may wish you never shared some things when they are old enough to hold us accountable for the things we say about them online. Even our private groups are not immune to crazy people... let us tread lightly and write wisely about our children. I love you all, and hope this doesn't happen again to anyone else!