Fact Check: '3 Year Old Baby Girl' Named 'Bobbi Renae' Was NOT Found In Various Locations -- It's Social Media Scam To Generate Engagement

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: '3 Year Old Baby Girl' Named 'Bobbi Renae' Was NOT Found In Various Locations -- It's Social Media Scam To Generate Engagement Bait & Switch

Was the same "3 year old baby girl," whose name is listed as "Bobbi Renae," found in various locations? No, that's not true: Although social media posts making the claim use an image of a child who was found after being missing, the posts form part of a strategy that seeks to generate likes and shares before swapping the contents out for a scam. No child was found in the locations described in the posts.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) published in a Facebook group called Dover "County Auction" on June 29, 2024. The post included two images of a girl with a caption that read:

This 3 year old baby girl, Bobbi Renae, was found last night walking behind a home here in #Dover
Deputy Tom Ashley saved her and took her to the Police Station but no one has an idea where she lives, the neighbours don't know her or how she got there. She says her mom's name is Lisa.
Let's flood our feeds so that this post may reach her family, thank you.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

bobbi renae missing girl FB post.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 15:44:10 2024 UTC)

'Bobbi Renae' story is fabricated

Lead Stories identified another post (archived here), published in a group on Facebook called "Richland County area primitives, crafts, and Antiques for Sale" on June 30, 2024, that also used the "Bobbi Renae" story. However, by clicking the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the post and selecting "View edit history," we found that the "Bobbi Renae" story was replaced with an ad for real estate. Screenshots of the altered post and the post's edit history are included below:

Screenshot 2024-07-02 130147.png
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 17:01:33 2024 UTC)

Screenshot 2024-07-02 130249.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jul 2 17:02:49 2024 UTC)

Lead Stories performed reverse image searches using Google (here and here) of both the images of "Bobbi Renae" included in the posts making the claim. We found that the second image in the post was part of a post (archived here) made by the purported account of Angela Ganote (archived here), a news anchor for the Indianapolis area station Fox 59, on June 7, 2024. It was a post made in response to an earlier one (archived here) on the account, which stated that a girl was missing. The post with the matching image stated that the girl had been found, verified by a story (archived here) published by Fox 59 on June 7, 2024. The girl's name was not revealed.

Lead Stories reached out to Ganote for comment on the image. We will update this story with any relevant response.

Real estate scam posts

Real estate scam posts are a tactic used on Facebook by spammers that employ "bait and switch" content to lure people into a scam. A post's creator will pair an alarming or heart-wrenching claim with a compelling image to catch people's attention -- missing children or aging adults, injured animals, injured people in hospital beds and sex trafficking tactics -- and drive engagement.

Once a post has garnered sufficient attention, the content switches to push a deceptive real estate advertisement. The wording and images of these eye-catching posts, typically seen on local Facebook "yard sale" pages," are frequently identical, even when the offered property is located in different cities, regions of the U.S. or countries.

The content switch is clearly documented by a post's edit history, which also notes additions or deletions of content. In some instances time stamps on the posts indicate when the switches were made but on some posts, timestamps don't change even though the content does.

Commonly, such posts use links that lead to landing pages with disclaimers or false promises, and contact information requests that can be used to gather personal data, including financial information, from people who follow the trails.

Some links purport to connect people to a U.S. Housing and Urban Development site to help them search for deals on foreclosed homes. Lead Stories found the links lead to new sites that carry disclosures at the bottom of the page that note they are "not affiliated with, endorsed, authorized, or approved by the Federal Government or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development."

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Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
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