HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The baby formula shortage impacting infants and their parents all over the country is only growing worse, according to one North Alabama mother. She, like many others, turned to social media for possible solutions and said it can be both a blessing and a curse.
“This formula shortage has really brought out the evilness in some people,” Katelyn Smith is referring to those cashing in on parents’ desperation to find their baby’s brand of formula via social media.
Smith took to Facebook after exhausting all other efforts to find her 6-month-old daughter’s formula in stores. One day, she drove from Huntsville to Cullman searching.
“I went in over 20 stores that day and I didn’t come out with a single can of formula,” she said. “At that point, I remember getting in my car and crying, what am I going to do?”
This came after she had already made one transition when her daughter’s formula was recalled. After introducing her to a new formula, Smith’s baby ended up in the Emergency Room with severe stomach pains.
Pediatricians told Smith she would recover, she just needed time to adjust to the new mix, already meant for an infant with a sensitive stomach. Now, she said even that formula is nowhere to be found.
Because her baby had a tough time transitioning once, Smith said she wanted to do anything she could to prevent risking her daughter hurting again, so she used Facebook. She joined a number of parent groups and formula sale pages in hopes of finding ‘Enfamil NeuroPro Sensitive.’
Instead of finding what she was looking for, the pages revealed something shocking to Smith:
“They’re profiting off of us who are literally desperate,” she said. “I’m mind blown that people have stocks and stocks and stocks and piles of formula that they’re not using, but they’ve found it and they’re getting it and selling it for this bizarre amount of money.”
She said worse than stockpilers though – are scammers.
“Several of my closest friends, they’ve been scammed. They send money to these people that supposedly had this formula. They were using stock photos off of all these re-sale apps. So they’re out all this money and have no way to get it back because they used Venmo or CashApp,” she said.
Smith herself, almost falling victim too.
“I messaged a girl and she sent me pictures and told me how much she wanted for this formula. I was this close to buying this from her, and then the next day I see on the Facebook group that she’s been scamming people.”
She said social media can be equally as helpful though, as it can be harmful. After posting about her search on her personal page with friends, she has been overwhelmed with support.
“We have a lot of people from all over the United States who have shipped us formula,” she said. “It’s mind-blowing to even think about the speed at which people have come together for us so my baby can eat.”
She warns other moms like her who are using social media to find what they need, to keep their guards up.
“As much as there is good in the world, there is that many bad,” she said. “They don’t care that you don’t have any formula left. They don’t care that you’re struggling or panicked or worried. They’re just trying to make a dollar and they’re con artists.”