Fact Check: 'Unidentified' Newborn Posts Are NOT Genuine Effort To Find Parents -- Part Of A Bait-And-Switch Scam

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: 'Unidentified' Newborn Posts Are NOT Genuine Effort To Find Parents -- Part Of A Bait-And-Switch Scam Post Swap Scam

Was an unidentified newborn baby found by the police, and will sharing a post on social media help identify the child? No, that's not true: A viral post is part of a bait-and-switch scam, the story is not true and the photo is misused. The baby pictured is Andrew Caballeiro, and this photo appeared in the January 28, 2020, Florida Amber Alert after he was abducted at 1 week old. This false post is part of a known ruse to trick people to share a post that will be later switched to say something else.

The post (archived here) was published in the Facebook group "americus/ellaville furniture online yard sale or swap & shop" on June 27, 2024. It was captioned:

#BREAKING UPDATE: A newborn baby has been found by the police this morning here in Americus
Let us flood our feeds and help identify who this newborn baby belongs to.

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


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jul 1 13:49:17 2024 UTC)

This post is false. A reverse image search for the photo used in this post shows that this is not just any borrowed baby picture. And this is not a photo of an unidentified baby recently found in Americus, Georgia, in 2024.

The deceptive Facebook post (pictured above) is using a photo of 1-week-old Andrew Caballeiro from the Amber Alert (pictured below) which went out after the baby was abducted from a Miami, Florida, home where his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were found murdered on January 28, 2020. The father, Ernesto Caballeiro, was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in another part of the state. The case has gone cold and the search for the missing baby was called off on February 12, 2020. The flyer for Andrew Caballeiro on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website lists his age would now be 4 years old. A January 30, 2020, article published by nbcnews.com titled, "One-week-old boy still missing after father kills himself, 3 women found dead" explains the crime:

Police in Florida are searching for a newborn after the father believed to have abducted him died by apparent suicide, authorities said.

The father, Ernesto Caballeiro, 49, was found dead Wednesday in Pasco County, over 300 miles from a home in Miami where the discovery of three women's bodies the day before prompted the search for the father and the baby.

Although police believe Caballeiro had taken his son, Andrew, who is one week old, the baby was not with his father when he was found.


(Image source: Screenshot from Florida Department of Law Enforcement X post taken on Mon Jul 01 16:17:16 2024 UTC)

The format of this post in a hometown yard sale group, with a plea for shares and the commenting turned off, is recognizable as a common format used by scammers to spread their posts. The ruse exploits people's desire to be helpful by sharing a concerning post.

Since 2022 Lead Stories has debunked a wide variety of narratives used to cause concern in these bait-and-switch scam posts. The topic might be a lost senior citizen, a found or injured dog, dangerous criminals on the run, or even noxious weeds and rattlesnake sightings. The comments are turned off to prevent other members in the group from warning about the scam. After the fallacious posts have been shared, they are then edited to advertise a scam.

A search on Facebook for the text in the caption, "A newborn baby has been found by the police this morning here in" returned scores of posts with a nearly identical caption and a variety of newborn baby photos. The post captions were edited to include the specific name of the town of the Facebook group where the post was placed. In the examples below the towns are Cape May, New Jersey, Gateshead, England, and Azle, Texas.


(Image source: Lead Stories composite image with Facebook screenshots taken on Mon Jul 01 17:13:36 2024 UTC)

In this and previous editions of this bait and switch scam, the original post will be edited. The edit history of any post can be seen by clicking on the three dots menu in the upper right hand corner of the post. In the example pictured below, the post was placed in the "High Springs, Fl - Memories" group on June 27, 2024 and originally had the caption:

#BREAKING UPDATE: A newborn baby has been found by the police this morning here in high springs
Let us flood our feeds and help identify who this newborn baby belongs to.
On June 29 the post was edited. The baby pictures were removed and real estate photos of a home were added. The caption was changed to read:

Still Available!!!
Rent to Own Home
3-bedrooms, 2-Bath rooms, Recently painted house with new appliances and upgrades! ready for a new owner.
-Located near shopping center
-Parking Space Available!
- All Pets allowed
For more information kindly visit>>>
and fill in the application to set an appointment!


(Image source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Jul 01 17:26:38 2024 UTC)

The rent-to-own home ad is also a bait-and-switch.

This home is not in Florida, but appears to have once been an active listing on April 22, 2024, in Arkansas on the site hotpads.com.

The shortened link in the rent to own home ad does not go to a listing for this home, but to a Godaddy Website homeforeveryone2.godaddysites.com and the unfinished website's privacy policy has not been published. The homeforeveryone2 website prominently displays the seal of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development but to proceed further and see any listings, the page redirects to affordablehousingresource.com.

On the terms of use page of the redirected website it states that "This Site is not affiliated with, endorsed by, authorized by, or associated in any way with any government (whether federal or state), government agency, military, or country." To see the promised listings at affordablehousingresource.com, the user must fill out a form which harvests their personal information -- as is fairly well described in the website's privacy policy. The disclaimer page of this tossed-together website has information about a "Vehicle Service Contract" and "Mechanical Breakdown Insurance" which was lifted directly from the website of Endurance Auto Warranty Services.

The business name listed at the bottom of the affordablehousingresource.com webpage, Affordable Housing Resource,at the mailbox address 531 Main St. #112. El Segundo, CA 90245-3060, is not listed as an active business by the Better Business Bureau or in the California Business Serarch of the California Secretary of State.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks about the narratives of this bait-and-switch scam can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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