Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Fake Baby Funeral Scam: Women Raise $700 in Donations

As sad as it is, dead baby scams really do work.

After all, scammers are profiting off a stranger's goodwill. A picture of a cute baby is comparable to the picture of an adorable puppy. Both can melt even the coldest of hearts. And when you say that the baby has recently died - and you need money for a funeral - tugging on heartstrings can loosen people's purse strings.

California scammers Chasity Doll, 20, and Tiffany Lyon, 27, capitalized on the goodness of strangers in this very way.

The two stood in a busy intersection in Modesto, California, where they held up a sign with a photo of a baby that they named as "Justin Michael Farrell" who lived from January 20, 2011 to June 6, 2011. The yellow sign read "funeral donations," reports the New York Daily News.

They collected around $700 in cash from generous motorists who sympathized with their plight, according to the New York Daily News.

Too bad it turns out that "Justin Michael Farrell" never existed.

Two police officers had first advised the two women to stay on the sidewalk. When they disobeyed the orders, they started asking them about the baby. The two women said that they were sisters, and that the baby had died when they were out of town on June 6, 2011. However, the "sisters" were unable to tell officers which hospital the baby had died in, who the baby's doctor was, or where the baby was born, which made the officers a bit more than suspicious, reports the New York Daily News.

One officer called the coroner who said no baby named "Justin Michael Farrell" had ever died in Modesto, the New York Daily News reports.

Eventually, the two women told officers that they had found the photo of the baby online and had used the same scam the previous week at another intersection, according to the New York Daily News.

Doll and Lyon were charged were fraud and conspiracy. Fraud usually involves the intentional misrepresentation of a fact. Here, the fact would have been the existence - and death - of the baby. Though their dead baby scam was good to raise a few hundred bucks, it probably wasn't worth the arrest.

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