A couple from Friedens, Pennsylvania, is facing misdemeanor theft charges after police say they faked the pregnancy, birth and death of their child and received both monetary donations through GoFundMe and gifts from friends and family.
Geoffrey and Kaycee Lang, ages 27 and 23, appear to have planned out the whole thing. Close friend Cynthia Dilascio even threw a baby shower for them earlier this year but started to have questions as time went on, according to WTAE.
The Langs claimed that their “son,” named Easton Walt Lang, was born on July 3, but shortly afterward succumbed to “respiratory distress syndrome.”
A short while later a GoFundMe campaign for the family popped up, asking for donations to cover funeral costs. Adding to the seeming credibility of the situation, it was a friend of the family who set up the fundraiser at Geoffrey’s mother’s request, according to Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s Tribune-Democrat.
By July 12, there was even an obituary for Easton published in The Tribune-Democrat.
“Easton’s parents were blessed with just a little over 5 hours before he went to his heavenly home at 8:20 am,” the heart-wrenching account stated. “Easton experienced holding hands and hugs and kisses with his mommy and daddy and being told uncountable number of ‘I love yous’.”
The obituaryalso gave details of the child’s alleged weight and length, and provided a long list of relatives he was supposedly survived by.
The Langs posted photos of their son on their Facebook pages, but a close look reveals that the “baby” in the photos is no baby at all. According to police, the baby resembled a “newborn look-a-like baby doll.”
Geoffrey Lang also claimed to have been absent during the birth and death of his own child, and the couple maintained that their son had been taken to Hindman Funeral Home, where he was cremated.
The funeral home apparently didn’t get the memo, as they had no records for anyone by the child’s name when police came knocking. Neither did the hospital where the Langs claimed their son was born.
However, when police searched the Lang home, they did find a “newborn look-a-like” doll.
Dilascio was one of the first to take up her concerns with the authorities, and others are understandably disgusted by the couple’s behavior — especially because they used such an emotionally charged story.
“I don’t know if they were doing it for the money,” Dilascio said, according to The Tribune-Democrat. “I don’t know what their motive was — to hurt your family and everybody, it’s just sick.”
GoFundMe also put a stop to the donations, revealing in a statement to WTAE that they were not on board with such abuse of their services and would be returning the money to the donors.
“This type of behavior is not tolerated on GoFundMe,” the organization said. “We will fully cooperate with law enforcement officials during their investigation and we will issue full refunds to all donors.
“We have a zero tolerance policy for any misuse on the platform. All donors are fully protected by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means donors are protected by a comprehensive refund policy if misuse occurs. This campaign received 15 donations totaling $550.”
While the couple might have thought they were being savvy by tapping into a friendly market, it looks like they’re about to get a little more attention than they expected. Their first court hearing will come in October.
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