A Pennsylvania couple faces numerous charges after police say they faked the birth and death of a child who never existed, in an attempt to scam people out of charitable donations.
According to a criminal complaint, Kaycee and Geoffrey Lang claimed their newborn son died hours after birth at the Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown on July 3. Police said the baby never existed and the couple went through elaborate lengths to convince people he did, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Prior to the non-existent baby’s birth, Kaycee Lang allegedly posted photos on Facebook that showed her with a pregnancy bump as the couple announced they were having a boy. In May, the couple attended a baby shower thrown for them by a friend. Photos posted online showed Kaycee Lang opening gifts.
Kaycee Lang also reportedly told friends and family that she needed to spend her final months of pregnancy on bed rest.
On July 3, the couple once again allegedly posted on social media and announced the baby passed away around five hours after his birth.
“Easton’s parents were blessed with just a little over 5 hours before he went to his heavenly home at 8.20 am.,” an online post read. “Easton experienced holding hands and hugs and kisses with his mommy and daddy and being told uncountable number of ‘I love yous.'”
The couple quickly created a GoFundMe fundraiser page and asked for donations to help cover the baby’s funeral expenses. They received around $550 in donations before their alleged scam was uncovered.
The couple’s friend, Cynthia, became suspicious after Kaylee Lang told her things that didn’t make sense to her. Cynthia told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that she contacted the funeral home and learned that there was no record of the baby. She then contacted police.
“The baby had fluid in his lungs but they gave him back to her [Kaylee] and said, ‘he’ll be fine,'” Cynthia told the news station, describing the moment she knew something was wrong. “I knew, like, that just doesn’t seem right.”
Cynthia said the couple even held a memorial for a baby. She didn’t attend.
“I knew it was fake,” Cynthia added.
As authorities began investigating, they learned that Kaylee Lang never gave birth at the hospital and never had the child cremated at the funeral home as she claimed.
The couple reportedly continued to maintain that they indeed had a child. While Geoffrey allegedly told police the baby died from heart problems and fluids in his lungs, his wife reportedly told authorities the baby died from respiratory distress syndrome.
Investigators said they found a doll inside the couple’s home that greatly resembled a real newborn baby. Authorities think the couple took a photo of the doll and used it on their GoFundMe page.
Both suspects were charged with theft by deception, theft by unlawful taking or disposition and receiving stolen property.
Megan Scripture, the regional communications spokesperson for GoFundMe, sent CrimeOnline a statement indicating that all donors will be issued refunds.
“This type of behavior is not tolerated on GoFundMe. We will fully cooperate with law enforcement officials during their investigation and we will issue full refunds to all donors.”
“We have a zero tolerance policy for any misuse on the platform. All donors are fully protected by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means donors are protected by a comprehensive refund policy if misuse occurs. This campaign received 15 donations totaling $550.”
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[Feature Photo: Facebook]