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California State: Parent Got Scammed Over Medical Grade Formula For Daughter with A Rare Disease

Keely Aguilar was contacted by scammers who took advantage of her desperation as she urgently needed the formula for her daughter. Aguilar mentioned in her conversation with KGO-TV that she was approached on social media by a woman willing to sell her the formula for $250.
June 16, 2022
Parent got scammed

Keely Aguilar, a citizen of Santa Rosa, California, has spent multiple days and nights searching for the special formula for her 11-year-old daughter. 

However, she got scammed, lost thousands of dollars, and did not even receive the formula. Her daughter, Nataliyah, suffers from a rare disease known as Bainbridge Roper Syndrome. This disease affects the cognitive abilities of the body and hence the digestive system. Therefore, Nataliyah requires a special formula to meet her nutrition requirements as she can not consume food or general baby formulas found in stores. 

Aguilar had no choice but to look online for the formula that meets her daughter’s requirements. She searched on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram and made posts regarding the matter. Her close friends and co-workers offered her great support in the search process. According to KGO-TV in San Francisco, Aguilar stated that she has “colleagues and friends who have gone above and beyond to place personal orders on Amazon, and I have one friend sourcing it from Mexico right now for us.”

How Was Keely Aguilar Scammed?

social media on laptop

Keely Aguilar was also contacted by scammers who took advantage of her desperation as she urgently needed the formula for her daughter. 

Aguilar mentioned in her conversation with KGO-TV that she was approached on social media by a woman willing to sell her the formula for $250. She asked for specifications of the formula such as expiration dates and even pictures, to confirm it was authentic. 

But it was too good to be true. Soon after Aguilar sent the money, the Facebook profile of the woman who had contacted Aguilar disappeared. She not only suffered financial loss but also didn’t receive the formula. Later she was contacted by other people trying to scam her; however, she was more careful after having experienced it firsthand. 

Despite the efforts of her colleagues and friends, Aguilar is still struggling to arrange the formula for Nataliyah. She said, “it’s shocking that people would prey on this segment of our population.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning stating that scammers are “tricking desperate parents and caregivers into paying steep prices for formulas that never arrive.”

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Why Are Baby Formula Scams On The Rise?

Abbott Laboratories is one of the world’s top manufacturers of baby formula. But in February this year, the company shut down its manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan. 

The facility’s closure was due to an investigation into the company’s infant formula as two babies had developed bacterial infections while two passed away. Consequently, the infant formula was recalled, and the facility was shut down permanently. 

This recent decision of the company, combined with the after-effects of Covid-19, resulted in a shortage of baby formula in the country. The director of the Center for Nutrition at Boston children’s hospital, Dr. Christopher Duggan, stated the Michigan factory shutting down “really exacerbated things.”

Who Is Most Affected By Formula Shortage?

According to CBS, like California, other states, including Texas, Iowa, and Tennessee, are also facing shortages of baby formula compared to other states. Moreover, certain income groups are also suffering more than others. 

The WIC (women, infants, and children) program in the US was created to help low-income women, infants, and children. However, the program purchases baby formula from Abbott Laboratories, which had recently shut down one of its production factories. 

As a result, lower-income families are suffering the most. Families with children who have rare diseases and special requirements come second on the list of those most affected, such as Keely Aguilar’s family. The formula for her daughter should have been covered by insurance. However, she had to pay for the formula herself due to an overall baby formula shortage.

US Government's Response To The Shortage Of Baby Formula:

formula Scam

The US produces 98% of its baby formula locally, and 50% of the production is owned by Abbott Laboratories. Thus, the government initiated ‘Operation Fly Formula’ to bring in more than 75,000 pounds of baby formula from Europe. 

The emergency shipment arrived on Sunday, 22nd May 2022, via Air Force planes as national planes were unavailable. Under ‘Operation Fly Formula,’ President Biden also announced the very first Defense Production Act. This act allows the Department of Health and Human Services to request the Department of Defense to deliver baby formula meeting US health and safety standards from abroad to meet the shortage in the country.

The emergency shipment helped restore the stock of baby formula nationwide; however, parents like Keely Aguilar still had concerns. Her daughter, Nataliyah, requires Neocate Jr. or Puramino Jr., neither of which were included in the shipment. But an alternative, Alfamino, was included in the shipment to which Aguilar said she was willing to use it as she had currently had no other options. 

She also suggested that the reopening of the Michigan facility should be considered a solution to the current shortage in the country. “And finding out what our officials are going to do to make sure the formula gets into the hands of the people who really need it” should also be a top priority.

Keely Aguilar’s prayers were answered as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Abbott Laboratories reached an agreement on the reopening of the Michigan factory. The company promises to reopen in two weeks and make its products available in six to eight weeks. 

However, all the products will be overlooked by an independent expert as per the agreement with the FDA. According to the Washington Post, the Democrats also proposed a bill stating $28 million be given to the FDA to deal with the baby formula shortage. However, approval of the bill is still pending. 

The Claimers, is a team of expert investigators, that have collaborated with various third-party institutions to ensure no one loses out on their hard-earned money. For the latest news and guides, you can visit our news page.

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