Police Investigating Claims of People Replacing Baby Formula With Flour, Returning It for Cash

August 13, 2019 Updated: August 13, 2019

Police are investigating reports of people buying baby formula replacing it with flour, and returning the product.

According to 12 News, several containers of tampered formula were eventually placed back on shelves in grocery stores.

Madeline Roque, a mother of a 9-month-old, told the broadcaster that she believes she purchased tampered formula from a Walmart.

“She was throwing up throughout the day passing a lot of gas … I just knew something was wrong,” Roque said. “I looked at the milk and I realize something’s definitely weird, the color is different, the texture was different.”

The mother let the container sit for a while and noticed that it separated, a sign that it was fraudulent.

“And then when I poured the bottle into the sink I saw how it got, that’s when it hit me,” Roque said. “I saw how it clumped up and I’m like, ‘Oh my god my daughter’s stomach is just the same or worse.'”

She recommended parents ensure baby formula containers are sealed before using them and look to see if it separates when it’s mixed with water.

The mother’s account came after police arrested 15 people for allegedly operating a baby formula ring.

Rafid Khoshi, 46, and his wife, Manal Sulaiman, 43, were arrested for allegedly buying stolen baby formula, Detective Seth Tyler of the Chandler Police Department told the Arizona Republic.

The people they purchased the formula from would steal the formula from a variety of stores then sell it to the couple for half price or more. The couple would take the formula they bought and sell it to a California distributor for closer to the store price for a profit.

The couple allegedly shipped more than 25,000 cans of the formula between September 2018 and May 2019.

Cans of powdered baby formula are seen locked behind glass on shelves at a pharmacy in Chicago in a file photo. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Other Tampered Formula

Other reports of tampered formula have emerged over the years.

Chelsea Bellinger, a mother, said that formula they bought was filled with flour, reported 12 News. She bought a box from a Walmart and went to get a bottle that was mixed only to find it had separated.

“I poured one out into the sink and it was very clumpy in the bottom. And when I opened the container I realized the color and the consistency was off from what I’m used to seeing,” she said.

She tasted the formula herself and found it was flour.

Her daughter, who had consumed some of the fake formula, became sick for several days. She eventually got better but Bellinger wanted to warn other parents.

woman tried to take baby
A baby in a file photo. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

“I told my husband like, ‘What if we’re those people that don’t say anything about it and then somebody else’s child actually does have an allergic reaction from it and they die from it? I would feel terrible,'” Bellinger said.

A Tuscon woman pleaded guilty in 2017 to child abuse and fraudulent schemes. She told police that she bought formula, which cost around $17, and replaced it with a mix of flour, sugar, and rice cereal before re-securing the lid.

Jennifer LaPlante saw some charges, including drug possession, dismissed in the plea deal. She was sentenced to seven years of probation.

The Tuscon Police Department warned people to check the seal of formula containers and carefully examine the contents before using it.

Another case took place in Maryland. Bobby Wayne Rhoades, 29, was sentenced in 2008 to over three years in prison for replacing baby formula with a mix of flour and salt.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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