Whether real or a hoax, an online advertisement offering a single newborn twin in exchange for $3,000 is certainly designed to tug at the heartstrings.
It has also prompted an investigation by the RCMP in the oil-rich community of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta where the ad apparently originated.
“Hi, I’m 7 and a half months pregnant with twin boys,” the writer posted to the popular free online classifieds forum, Kijiji. “I’m 20 years old and as hard as it is I can only care for one child. I would like to sell my other baby to a sweet caring family who will love him and care for him.”
The ad continued: “I would like it to be private as well. Email if interested or would like to know more.”
Wood Buffalo RCMP Constable Natasha Lytwenko said Tuesday that police were alerted to the suspicious ad by a member of the public on March 28, but it’s not clear yet if it’s “real or fake.”
“It was seen by someone who was quite concerned,” she said, “…We’re still conducting an investigation to determine the validity to it.”
The ad has been removed from Kijiji and police, who have asked the website for more information, have not yet identified the source, Const. Lytwenko said.
It’s not the first time such a disturbing offer has been made online in Canada or abroad.
Media Virginia reported two weeks ago that police were probing an advertisement for a baby for sale for $2,600 (U.S.) on Craigslist, another popular online marketplace that links buyers and sellers.
Last September, police in Victoria launched an investigation after an ad, which included the photo of a baby and offered the child “free to a good home,” was placed on UsedVictoria.com, a buy-and-sell website. Constable Mike Russell said no baby was located and it was ruled a prank.
Also last year, Mounties in Fort St. John, B.C., were looking for a prankster who took a mother’s Facebook photo and posted it on the Prince George and Area Buy, Sell and Trade website offering the girl “free to a good home.”
In 2011, police in Sydney, N.S., were called when a two-month-old baby was listed for sale on Kijiji by someone other than the baby’s parents, who were shocked when they learned of the ad. Officers were also looking at the case as a hoax.
A 23-year-old woman in Wisconsin wasn’t criminally charged in 2010 after she placed an ad asking for $800 in exchange for a two-year-old. The woman, who didn’t have any children, had been drinking with a friend and posted the ad as a joke.
In 2008, a Vancouver couple offered to sell their week-old baby girl on Craigslist for $10,000 (Canadian). The couple claimed it was a “sick joke” and weren’t charged.