A woman who pretended to be a mother and made up stories about herself won sympathy on Facebook and obtained the personal details of at least 60 mothers over the last four months, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
The woman, who referred to herself as Li Tung, said she became a mother in December.
Li offered used baby items on Facebook and quickly became “friends” with mothers online.
A woman surnamed Wong was among the mothers who gave Li their addresses, telephone numbers and the ages of their children to qualify for the freebies.
Wong said she’d had no misgivings, as it is common for mothers on Facebook to give and receive used baby items.
One mother said she received a doll that she believed to be worth over HK$100 from Li although they have never met in person.
Many of the mothers sympathized with Li’s touching stories about her serial illnesses — including meningitis, appendicitis, postnatal depression — and a miscarriage and bone marrow extractions.
In late April, Li’s husband, Kelvin, posted messages online saying she had jumped off a building because of hallucinations.
A few days later, Kelvin said Li’s heartbeat had miraculously resumed.
The dramatic story made many Facebook users suspicious.
It was later discovered that some of the baby pictures posted on Li’s Facebook page may have been lifted off the page of a mother in Japan.
Li admitted to telling lies but said she wanted attention and sympathy after she suffered a miscarriage resulting from a push from her boyfriend.
She promised that she would delete the personal details she had collected about children and said she had only wanted to send them gifts in the first place.
Clinical psychologist Sarah Ip said Li does not necessarily have mental or psychological issues and that it is more of a moral problem.
Ip said Li might be jealous of the lives of real mothers and wanted to make them worry for her and be sad.
Psychiatrist Ben Cheung said Li’s symptoms were similar to those of Munchausen Syndrome, in which a sufferer constantly pretends to be sick or even hurts himself or herself so as to win attention.
Lawmaker Charles Mok Nai-kwong, who represents the information technology constituency, said the case does not seem to be as serious as one of criminal fraud, as Li has not profited from her actions, which involved using pictures from a family in Japan.
However, Mok stressed that using other people’s identity should not be encouraged.
Mok urged netizens not to “bully” Li online in retaliation.
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