A mum has slammed vile fraudsters who used her dead son’s picture to create a bogus fundraising page – which also featured fake posts claiming to be from Harry Kane.
Bailey Cooper was aged just nine when he passed away from cancer on Christmas Eve in 2017.
The brave boy fought the disease for 15 months and held on just long enough to meet and name his newborn baby sister.
His family, from Patchway, Bristol, had been doing their best to carry on in the years since his death – holding on to happy memories of him smiling whatever his condition.
But they were left shaken when they discovered a sham Instagram profile and GoFundMe page for a boy called ‘Declan’ – using a photo of Bailey.
The account, called harrykane_birthday, also hosted posts claiming to be by England captain Kane.
It said that funds were being raised to organise a final birthday party for the child and they wanted his “favourite footballer” to attend – and had amassed 45,000 followers.
Mum Rachel told the BBC: “My initial thought was ‘this is a joke – this isn’t real’. I was in shock that it had even happened,
“I know it is not a nice world we live in nowadays but I didn’t think it was this cruel.
“It petrifies me and what makes it worse is that his little brother has seen it. He is really struggling.
“It has put me off social media. I’m frightened about what will be taken from us.”
Both the account and the page have now been deleted.
A GoFundMe spokeswoman said: “This campaign was proactively removed by our team within minutes of being posted.
“At no point would the person who posted it have been able to get access to any donations.”
A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said: “We understand the distress this has caused the Cooper family.
“Impersonation accounts are against our Community Guidelines and will be removed once we are made aware of them.
“If someone believes they have spotted a fraudulent account, we’d encourage that they report it using our online form or in-app tools.”
Bailey first became ill in the summer of 2016 and after a series of tests was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma which was already in stage three when discovered.
But doctors treated the cancer with chemotherapy and steroid medication – and were optimistic that Bailey would recover.
He then went into remission in early 2017 and returned to school, although was subject to regular check ups and routine MRIs every three months.
But when the family went on holiday that Easter they were dealt a devastating blow – that Bailey had relapsed.
His condition then deteriorated over the following months and he sadly passed away on Christmas Eve with his family at his bedside.
Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects at Bailey’s funeral including then Bristol Rovers FC captain Tom Lockyer, who struck up a friendship with the young football fan.
Speaking at the time, Bailey’s dad Lee said: “Bailey smiled through it all. He pulled funny faces and made people laugh, even though he was in so much pain.”