ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Two Missouri parents say a criminal was using Facebook photos of their 9-month-old daughter to extort money from men.
Since Isla was born with a rare heart condition, parents Nicholas Bailey and Ashley Standridge have been focused on her health. They told WDAF they never guessed they might have to worry about online predators at the same time.
"She was born with hypoplastic right heart syndrome – basically the right side of her heart hasn’t developed," Standridge said. "She has had three open heart surgeries and she’s had two heart cath procedures."
But Isla still manages to keep a smile on her face.
"She is always happy. Even right out of surgery she was smiling and laughing and nothing that she has gone through has fazed her at all," Standridge said.
However that smile was ripped from Standridge's face after she received a Facebook message from a stranger detailing a disturbing scam.
Standridge said a Facebook friend, who was a high school classmate of hers, was using pictures of Isla and at least one other child, claiming the babies were hers and demanding money from ex-boyfriends. Standridge said one of the men's current girlfriends notified her.
"It was devastating. If I could compare it to anything it was like getting her diagnosis all over again. It was a punch in the gut," Standridge said.
Nicholas Bailey, Isla's father, said reading those messages brought back painful memories.
"Just going through her surgeries, she stated that her heart stopped, and there has been instances where we’ve been real close to that and that’s not something I want to go through again. She made it seem like a story," he said.
It's a nightmare Ashley thought she'd never encounter and is now warning parents to protect themselves and their children online.
"I thought this girl was an innocent person. I went to high school with her and I didn’t think anyone like that would ever do this to me and I was completely wrong," Standridge said. "Just be careful who you have on your Facebook. Make sure your Facebook is as locked down as it can be so people that you’re not friends with cannot see what you post. Be aware that these things do happen."