LYNDONVILLE — If there is a school-aged boy in the area named Tyler Griffin, who wears sneakers with purple and red shoelaces and weighs 124 pounds, he’s not missing.
A social media post that claims otherwise is a scam.
The post made on the Facebook site St. Johnsbury, Lyndonville. Buy, Sell N Swap notes “#lyndonville.” It includes the photo of a smiling boy and states that the picture was taken at his first day of school. The text claims to be written by the mom of Tyler Griffin and that the boy never returned home after school. It goes on to provide details about what he was wearing - “black converses with purple and red shoelaces as well as well as a blue zip-up hoodie” - and includes physical features: “dirty blonde hair, blue eyes and he’s about 5’4-5’5 and 124 lb.”
Lyndonville Chief Jack Harris confirmed there is no missing child named Tyler Griffin in the area and recognized the post as a scam that’s been seen elsewhere. “Slightly different photo but same post,” Harris said after seeing a copy of the one noting Lyndonville as the location.
An online site called Trend Micro reported on the scam late last week. The pictures of the boy are different but the text is verbatim. The other thing they all have in common is that they originate on trade sites.
“This is unfortunately a SCAM — and a pretty cynical one at that, by profiting off of people’s goodwill and desire to help,” Trend Micro notes.
The scam works as follows, Trend Micro states: “Once the posts have received enough online traction (shares etc.) the scammers will then alter the content of the post to advertise rental listings on dodgy real estate websites, as well as online surveys.”
The links that are provided take people to phishing pages where an effort is made to obtain people’s personal information.
Chief Harris, whose department was recently tied to a different scam effort by phone, called the missing child scam “disgusting.”
“Like any scam it’s outrageous that a person or persons would use something like this for their personal gain,” he said. “This puts authentic reports in question when expediency is necessary.”