Munchausen by Proxy by Internet

I moderate an online support forum for people with epilepsy and their caregivers. Last year, one of these members managed to throw our entire community into disarray. Her username was Jasmine. She introduced herself as the mother of a son who had intractable epilepsy. We also were told that she was pregnant with twins, who were conjoined. Doctors were asking Jasmine whether she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. Following a lengthy discussion on the forum, Jasmine elected to carry the twins to term.

Jasmine’s next bout of posting shocked us all. A week later, we got an update from Jasmine after the surgery to the twins. One of the twins had died during the separation. A picture was posted of the baby in his coffin.
We let Jasmine know that we were on her side. In response, she posted yet another photo: a black horse-drawn carriage conveying a tiny coffin to the cemetery. It was actually this photograph that gave the game away for Jasmine. One of our more tech-savvy users noticed that the image address linked back to a file that had been uploaded five years ago to a website for bereaved parents. It was obviously someone else’s child.

We found out that the picture of the baby in a coffin actually showed a life-like doll. Jasmine had altered some color settings to make the skin appear grey and lifeless. Jasmine denies everything to this day. She says she was hacked—so sad.

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