Julie Chambers and daughter Zoe before her death. Photo: PA
A mum has spoken of her distress after con artists set up a Facebook site to raise money for her toddler who had already died following a heart transplant.
Julie Chambers, 37, found the group in the name of her daughter, Zoe, who died aged two in 2008, reports the Daily Mail.
The group used a photo of Julie and Zoe taken from her own Facebook account, and was asking for donations to help fund a heart transplant for the toddler.
Police have hold distraught Julie that they cannot act on the people behind the page, as she hasn't been defrauded of any money, despite the page being viewed nearly 200,000 times, and the concern that American users have donated thousands of pounds.
The page was asking Facebook users to share a link, saying Zoe would get a free heart transplant if 1,000 shares were made. There were also links to a PayPal page for cash donations.
"My daughter died three years ago and some sick person has tried to hijack the memories to make some cash. It's disgusting," says Julie.
"Part of me is upset, but mostly I'm really angry. I can't believe someone would do something like this. It's sickening. Thankfully, all my friends have been on the case and we've really been pushing to get people to stop posting the links - but they have gone to more than 170,000 people so it's a really big job.
"I've tried getting help from Facebook but they have been useless. I've reported it to the police but they have said they cannot do anything as I have not been defrauded of any money. I was really worried for a time that people might think it was me behind the scam."
Zoe was born with a narrow valve in her heart which did not allow blood to pass through. She died aged two after a suspected virus attack heart following a heart transplant. Julie welcomed a son, Jamie in January 2011.
She said: "It would have been hard enough to handle if Zoe had been alive, but she isn't with us. She's dead and someone has used her picture to con people out of money.
"Thankfully, through a number of friends, the scam came back to me, so I started trying to find out what had happened. At first, I didn't understand why people would make donations because of the NHS, but when we realised it was being done in America it made more sense."
After Julie started her online fight to stop the page, she got support from Australian website Hoax-slayer.com. Other experts then started investigating and eventually got the false donation page taken down.
What an horrific experience for Julie and her family to go through.