A 39-year-old woman from Las Vegas, Nevada, is in deep trouble after she "brazenly" pretended to be a Child Protective Services worker in an elaborate plot to steal a baby, according to authorities. Joanna Boyd found the family through an ad she placed online trying to sell baby clothes. Instead, she collected information about their child and then schemed to take their infant.
First, Boyd found her mark online after making a fake post on social media.
According to NBC News 3, the unnamed new parents and Boyd began exchanging messages online. The couple were looking to buy newborn clothes for their child, but Boyd used their profiles to gather personal information about their 3-week-old baby. She then created fake documents that were meant to look as if they were from Child Protective Services.
She then prepared to show up at their house to kidnap the newborn. But Boyd's plan went awry when she tried to involve police in her plot.
Boyd used the parents' profiles to gather personal information about their 3-week-old baby. She then created fake documents that were meant to look as if they were from CPS.
At about 12:25 p.m. on November 26, Boyd called Las Vegas Metropolitan Police posing as a Clark County Department of Family Services employee. She asked them to provide backup as she was going to pay a home visit to make an emergency removal of an infant. They met her at a different location, and then she hoped that they would go to the couple's home together.
But when Boyd arrived, her plan fell apart. Officers suspected that the documents she had provided were false, so they asked her for identification. They also contacted CPS and asked if Boyd worked there. When CPS confirmed that she was not an employee, police knew that the documents were phony.
“The information that this female provided on these fraudulent documents was accurate information and the information that she got was from a Facebook account, posted openly by parents," Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Captain Nichole Splinter said at a press conference. "She planned on keeping the baby because her children were taken from her at some point."
Although Boyd's arrest prevented the unthinkable from happening, her story is an important reminder to parents not to be cavalier with their information.
Boyd is now being charged with attempted kidnapping, forgery, impersonating a public officer and possession of stolen vehicle. When police investigated her further, they found that she had a history of misdemeanors and felonies, including child cruelty.
But Splinter is using this as a teachable moment for other parents who think they are being safe online. "We all know that we're proud when we have new children," Splinter said. "But posting the personal information, the date of birth, as well as the parents' dates of birth was able to provide the suspect the information she needed to make these documents look legit."
The best thing for parents to do is to make sure they're using appropriate privacy settings when they post online, although Richard Guerry, from the Institute for Responsible Online and Cellphone Communication, warns that that only goes so far.
“All we’re trying to do is limit strangers' visibility into our windows to the world, but windows do work two ways,” he said.
This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.