VAN NUYS (CBSLA.com) — A mother with a baby in crisis says she fell victim to a scam after she turned to a Craigslist ad to buy special infant formula not covered by her insurance.
Rachel Souverain, the baby’s mother, explains that prior to getting Neocate Infant Formula, feeding time was incredibly difficult as her daughter had refused breast milk and was unable to ingest traditional baby formulas due to a milk and soy intolerance.
“She would scream bloody murder, and it would take an hour to feed her,” Souverain said. “Such a basic thing to feed your daughter, and I couldn’t do it.”
After two months of sleepless days and nights, the baby’s doctor diagnosed her with “silent reflux.”
“Her tummy doesn’t digest the acid normally, so it just goes up and down, up and down until it’s out of her system,” Souverain said.
A gastrointestinal specialist recommended Neocate, a prescription formula, and it worked.
“She laughs now. She smiles. She giggles. She didn’t do that for three months,” Souverain said.
But the family’s insurance company, Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, denied the claim, leaving the Van Nuys couple to pay $600 a month out-of-pocket.
After a few weeks of mounting bills, Souverain’s co-worker suggested she turn to the Internet for a better deal.
On Craigslist, the new mom found ad after ad selling Neocate at up to 70 percent off.
One ad, which was from a seller, who said she had twins who needed the special formula, stuck out.
The seller had said she was willing to sell her surplus.
“I spoke to her for over an hour. She cried with me,” she said.
Souverain said she agreed to use PayPal to send the woman, who lives out of state, $500 for about $1,600 worth of formula.
In a text message provided to CBS2 by Souverain, the seller also asked her to pay as a friend and not a merchant to avoid PayPal’s fees.
“What I should have realized is that means that PayPal’s not responsible for it and that there is no recourse,” she said.
It’s been a week since Souverain paid and the formula has yet to arrive.
Souverain says the seller won’t return her calls or emails and she filed a police report Tuesday.
“They did say on Craigslist, this happens to a lot of people,” Souverain said. “And this woman played me. And I fell for it.”
CBS2 reached out to the insurance company, but it did not respond to a request for comment.