Police are investigating after a North Carolina mom found her baby's formula had been replaced with flour—and it's happened before.

By Kristi Pahr
August 15, 2019
Adobe Stock

A mother in North Carolina is blowing the whistle on a dangerous return-for-cash scam after realizing her baby's formula had been replaced with flour.

Madeline Roque explained to NBC-affiliate WCNC that she became concerned after her usually-content 9-month-old became fussy, started vomiting, and refused her bottle. "She was throwing up throughout the day passing a lot of gas... I just knew something was wrong," Roque said.

Roque then noticed that 9-month-old Adeline's formula, which had been purchased from a local Walmart, looked strange. "I realize something's definitely weird, the color is different, the texture was different," Roque said in an interview with WCNC. It wasn't until the "formula" began to settle and separate, something she said has never happened before, that she realized it wasn't formula at all. Roque believes the formula container was emptied of formula powder, refilled with flour, and returned to the store for cash.

This scam isn't new. In July, an Arizona couple was arrested in a baby formula theft ring, netting them close to half a million dollars, and in June, Tampa Bay mom Ashley Frydych, had a similar experience with her son's formula. In a Facebook post, Frydrych wrote, "He was extremely fussy, gassy and didn't sleep well. My husband noticed this morning that the bottle's substance separated only a few minutes after I made it. He goes in to check the 'formula' and its FLOUR!!!"

Roque said she immediately notified Walmart of the situation. A store representative told NBC-Charlotte that it is against company policy to replace returned formula on shelves for resale. However, Walmart says it is investigating the incident.

Local police, according to WCNC, are launching investigations into formula scams at several local stores. "It's happening and it's not right," Roque said.

When purchasing formula, it's important to check that all seals are intact and if you notice anything off, notify store management immediately. Likewise, test every new container of formula before giving it to your baby. Baby formula mixes into solution with water and should never settle out once mixed. If you notice problems with your baby's formula, notify the store.

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