The BBB’s advice is to take the extra step to make sure an online profile claiming to be selling formula is a real person.
DALLAS — Gabriela Perez’s struggle to find formula for her son, Levi, started back in March. Her baby’s formula is one of the brands that was recalled and pulled off the shelves in February.
She said, in March, she started making social media posts to see if anyone had seen her son’s formula. A friend in Georgia sent her some.
“We’re here now in May, and it’s just gotten worse,” Perez said.
Perez’s best friend, Jennifer Mendez, stopped seeing her daughter’s formula on shelves a few weeks ago.
“We found some and ordered some from Walgreens,” Mendez said. “My mom was going to pick it up because it was on the other side of Dallas, but they canceled the order.”
Both women said they’d used their social circles and even social media to try and find formula for their babies. They even found a Facebook group that connected mothers who needed certain formulas with people who were able to find it.
However, that group had members around the country and often required shipping.
“What if we make one for the DFW since we’re all local,” Perez said.
The two worked with their friend, Adrianna Vasquez, to create the DFW Formula Fed Babies Facebook group. They made the group on Monday.
On Friday, there were more than 1,000 members posting the formulas they need, swapping pictures of what they’ve found, donating and selling.
The rules are simple: No price gouging. No selling samples (they’re free).
“We just look out for things like that where people are trying to take advantage of others in this situation,” Mendez said.
Monitored community groups like these are what Better Business Bureau Senior Regional Director Jason Meza called “the best scenario.”
“Every shortage…every opportunity that scammers can see in the headlines in the news, they will create false online appeals…create fake websites to buy things,” Meza said.
He said the BBB has not received any formal complaints about any specific businesses or scams. He said, if they’re being reported, it’s likely to the specific websites or platforms where the interactions are happening.
“I know a lot of desperate moms are backs against the wall trying to locate this and due to the supply, demand and strain we are noticing it’s happening,” Meza said.
His advice is to take the extra step to make sure an online profile claiming to be selling formula is a real person.
“You’re going to see profiles coming up…many of them can be fake,” Meza said. “You really need to do some digging. Investigate the profile. If the profile doesn’t have a lot of friends or networks or mom groups that they joined, more than likely it’s a duplicated or hijacked profile.”
He also said it’s important to be cautious about the form of payment requested. Methods that don’t allow you to get your money back if necessary, like wire transfer or money sending apps, are not recommended when working with someone you don’t know.
Meza said credit cards are best for online transactions because it’s easier to file a fraud claim.
“We’re at a critical point cause we’re not talking days or weeks, we’re talking hours, so we just want to get the word out so moms knows what to look for,” Meza said.
He said the best option is to lean into communities, like DFW Formula Fed Babies, that are taking the extra step to protect members.