THE family of miracle premature baby Emily Cressey has been left devastated after they were conned out of their first holiday in a Facebook scam.
Emily was one of Scotland’s smallest babies when she was born three months premature in February last year, weighing just 1lb 3oz, and spent four months in Edinburgh’s neonatal unit. She has gradually become stronger and the family had booked their first break after the emotional rollercoaster since Emily’s birth.
They were due to leave their Coldstream home for a caravan park this morning – but their excitement turned to disappointment when they discovered that they had been scammed out of £350.
Emily’s mum Claire accused the scammer of “stealing a child’s holiday” and said her three older daughters – Caitlin, ten, Millie, five, and Brooke, two, were devastated.
Ms Cressey responded to an advert on a Facebook forum about booking a caravan at the Coral Beach holiday park in Skegness.
But after she transferred cash into the owner’s bank account she realised she had been conned.
The 35-year-old became suspicious when she noticed that the owner had blocked her Facebook comments and her fears were confirmed when Coral Beach told her that they had no record of the owner or the caravan.
Police are probing the case, and Ms Cressey fears it is part of a wider online scam which could have affected scores of other families.
The mum-of-four said: “Emily is strong enough now and so we decided to have a family trip. We’d saved this little bit of money, and we tried to get a last-minute deal.
“I can’t believe someone could do that, to steal a child’s holiday. It just seems like wicked cruelty. We just felt happy to get a deal. We are devastated after the year the girls have had. We waited until Emily was strong enough, and now this has happened.”
Little Emily, now 18 months, is doing well but is still so small that she fits in clothes for babies aged from three to six months.
“She can stand if she is holding on to the sofa, it’s slow but it’s progress,” said Ms Cressey. “We waited a long time to feel safe to go away with Emily, and this happens. I have just lost all faith.
“We are just so sad that people do this. I do feel lucky that we haven’t made the four-and-a-half-hour drive with all the children to find out it didn’t exist.”
The holiday had been advertised on the “caravans to rent in Skegness and the surrounding area” Facebook page. There is no suggestion that the forum or the caravan park has been involved in any criminal wrongdoing.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police Scotland has received a report of suspected fraudulent activity. The incident was reported to police on Wednesday, August 5. Inquiries are ongoing.”