The search for a missing boy in Moulins, France, ended with the woman who started it in custody after investigators found that the child only existed in the virtual world.
Authorities are still unsure if the woman claiming to be 2-year-old Chayson Basinio’s great aunt has a psychological problem or if she invented the crime for other reasons, like revenge. What they do know is that “Chayson” is only real on Facebook.
The woman came to police with the claim that the child has disappeared from a supermarket parking lot, the Guardian reports. Local police began an all-out search, dredging a lake after a judge opened an inquiry for kidnapping and sequestration.
But inconsistencies in the woman’s story made detectives suspicious. That’s when they discovered that Facebook accounts had been hashed together and that the boy did not actually exist. Fabricated photographs of the boy with his “father,” 20-year-old Rayane Basinio, also appeared on the social media site.
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The woman’s teenage daughter and a cousin, both minors, are the ones who set up the fake accounts and pirated the photos, police believe. They are also being questioned, while the woman faces six months in prison and a fine of €7,500, or about $10,000, if found guilty of inventing a crime.
"The inquiry for kidnapping and sequestration has obviously been redirected into one of reporting an imaginary crime or offence," said Eric Mazaud, the public prosecutor. "It [the inquiry] was long and complicated, but we can now say that the young Chayson has never existed and nor have his father or mother."
“Sadly, this is a very modern-day story. Someone decided to create false Facebook accounts and took pictures from real accounts to feed the false accounts and make these people seem real," Mazaud added.