US authorities said a woman offered a two-year-old girl up for sale on eBay and accepted a man’s tongue-in-cheek bid.
The Holland Sentinel said police located the woman in Allendale Township, about 15 miles west of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The woman had been caring for the child. The girl is now in her mother’s custody.
Nineteen-year-old Autumn Braden said she did it to “see how eBay worked” and it “wasn’t meant to be taken seriously”.
Ottawa County sheriff’s Lieutenant Mark Bennett said police received calls about the internet posting from as far away as California. Lt Bennett said one bidder who thought it was a hoax called police when the bid was accepted and helped lead them to the woman.
The woman said the incident was a big misunderstanding.
“It was just a joke — that’s all it was,” she said. “You all are taking it way too serious, and blowing it out of proportion.”
The advert read: “Kid for sale, an adorable child for sale. Can clean and hold a decent conversation. Very loveable, but I just grew out of her.”
Police say the woman posted the ad likely in a bizarre scheme to get money.
The woman said she was just trying to figure out how the reserve function worked on eBay, which is when a seller won’t sell an item below a certain price.
She just so happened to have a lot of photos of the toddler on her computer, and thought posting the ad would be funny, the woman said.
“Somebody had bought her, and I cancelled the transaction and stuff,” she said. “No money was given to me. I cancelled the transaction right away, and it was just, I even think that person was taking it as a joke.”
Several people contacted the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department about the ad within an hour, including a man who says he bought the girl for $1,000 (€700).
Police obtained enough information to track down the Allendale woman, and found the little girl.
The woman admits she fears charges may lay ahead.
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