A search for a missing boy in the French town of Moulins took a bizarre turn when it was discovered he didn’t actually exist outside of Facebook. Two year-old Chayson Basinio was reported as missing from a supermarket in the town, and police opened a kidnapping investigation as well as dredging a nearby lake. After several days of searching, it was discovered that both the boy and his separated parents were fabrications created on Facebook.
“The inquiry for kidnapping and sequestration has obviously been redirected into one of reporting an imaginary crime or offence,” said public prosecutor Eric Mazaud, as the Guardian reports. “[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.”
The woman who reported the missing child and claimed to be his great-aunt is now in police custody after the authorities noticed a growing number of inconsistencies in her story. If found guilty of inventing a crime, she could face up to six months in prison and a fine of €7,500 (around $10,360). The woman’s daughter and a cousin are also being questioned by police, who believe they helped set up the bogus accounts with pictures stolen from elsewhere on the social network. The fake profiles were created several months ago.
At this stage the motive behind the deception is unclear, though Eric Mazaud suggested either psychological problems or revenge could be behind it. “Sadly, this is a very modern-day story,” he said. “Someone decided to create false Facebook accounts and took pictures from real accounts to feed the false accounts and make these people seem real.”