Then on July 17, two more people emailed me. They'd seen Elliott's photos passed off as sick baby "Jayden" and then reverse image-searched them once the lie was exposed. That led them to my blog and this time they provided a link to a facebook community called Jayden's Prayer Warriors that was full of photos of Elliott. She'd been posting them for several months and including updates about "her" baby's illness and chemotherapy. There was an address for people to send cards and a link to a fundraising page (though no one had donated). I got the emails and link on my phone as I was heading back to work and without really thinking about it, I angrily reported the page as a scam. Once I got back to the office I realized I should've waited until after the police had a chance to see it, since I was pretty sure soliciting money using stolen photos and passing them off as a fake kid was at least report-worthy if not actually illegal. I snapped screenshots of everything that seemed relevant and called the police department in the town she gave as her place of residence. I was told since I live elsewhere, I'd need to file a report with my local police and then have them forward it to Lowell PD. I felt a little bit stupid calling the police and saying "Someone stole my baby's photos from my blog," but once I explained it the clerk I talked to was duly horrified and took down all the information for a report with the financial crimes unit.
I spoke to a sergeant in financial crimes on Monday, and while he told me that the use of the photos was really nothing they could deal with, he also took the fraud aspect seriously. He told me he'd forward the report to Lowell and that I should call them after giving it a few days to get there. I called Lowell today and talked to two police officers with awesome Boston accents. Since no one actually gave her any money (that I can find, and I've tried), there's not much they can do, but one said he'd call her and "tell her to knock it off" and the other admitted he'd confronted her last week for doing the same thing with someone else's baby photos. While I'm disappointed it didn't end with her definitely getting arrested for being a colossal douchebag, I'm glad the police took it seriously and that her name is now on record for the inevitable next time she tries to pull something like this.
People who've heard the story as it unfolded have tended to say sympathetic things like "I'm really sorry this is happening to you!" and while I do appreciate the comfort / care, really I do not feel personally attacked or victimized. I firmly believe the only reason Elliott was involved was that she stumbled across his photos and figured he was cute enough to get her the attention she wanted. With luck his name will never be tied to anything that happened, and hopefully she won't try to use his photos again. Perhaps it is a horribly selfish decision, but I have no intention of locking down the blog or stopping the sharing of the kids' pictures. I am experimenting with watermarking my photos, but it's a bit of a time-consuming pain in the ass and I kind of hate the way it looks. I may try to give it a month and see if it's still annoying me. But anyway, I guess the point is, the thing that made me so angry wasn't that she stole my photos, it was that she used them in such a disgusting lie. I kept thinking of Hugo's mom, whom I know from Twitter, and how she'd give almost anything to have her story be made-up, and here was someone lying about it for attention / money. The injustice, the unfairness of it, and knowing she'd probably get away with it, that's what made me furious. I'm still a little furious, though I feel much better now that I know I've done all I can to get her branded as a sleazebag in the eyes of the law.
and I'm not sure why she thought people wouldn't notice. Then again she's clearly not a rational person.