An alarming number of dangerous products remain in homes and businesses, despite being recalled— many times leading to additional injuries and deaths. While most are removed from store shelves, online resale markets like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and e-bay are often fertile ground to buy these products.
Spotlight on America correspondent Angie Moreschi discovered unsuspecting consumers looking to save money on these resale websites can face a hidden danger from recalled products being sold with no warning. Watch our in-depth report to see just how often this happens.
It’s hard to imagine that a recalled product like the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play, responsible for so much tragedy, is still so easy to buy online.
“It’s been associated with the deaths of approximately 100 infants,” said Philadelphia product liability attorney Dan Mann.
Mann says one of the first things they do when a case comes into his office is scour the internet to find the recalled product involved in an injury or death. All too often, as in the case of the Rock ‘n Play, it’s not hard to do.
Mann represents the parents of 4-month-old Cameron Vobr and says a recalled Rock ‘n Play was responsible for causing the baby’s death.
“We have this system that's set up that's supposed to protect children and their families and it's failing,” Mann said.
The Vobr’s are from a small town in South Dakota about two hours away from Sioux Falls. Family videos show the happy times of life with a newborn, little Cameron giggling during bath time and pulling his daddy’s beard.
“Every moment was special with him. I just didn’t know how much,” said Evan Vobr, Cameron’s dad.
In late January of 2021, nearly two years after the Rock ‘n Play was first recalled, baby Cameron fell asleep in the rocker, which was still being used at his day care. And never woke up again.
“It’s been extremely hard trying to deal with my emotions and handling it,” his mom, Tasha Welch said, fighting back tears.
In January of this year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reissued the Rock ‘n Play recall, due to suffocation risk— announcing at least eight more babies died, since the original recall. Little Cameron was one of them.
“It’s kind of mind blowing in a sense, knowing there are products out there that kids are trusted in, and things like this happen,” Evan Vobr said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the government agency tasked with protecting consumers from dangerous products.
CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric agreed to sit down with Spotlight on America’s Angie Moreschi to talk about the danger of recalled products being resold online.
He says it is something he is deeply concerned about.
Moreschi: Is the system that we have set up as a country to protect consumers and children failing?
Hoehn-Saric: On many levels, we could do more, especially when we’re starting to look at these ecommerce platforms out there.
Moreschi: Do you worry about another child being killed?
Hoehn-Saric: I worry about another child being killed every day.
Spotlight on America searched Facebook Marketplace and found not just one, but two, recalled Rock ‘n Plays being offered for resale on separate days.
We found other recalled products, too, like the Boppy Pillow lounger— more than 3-million recalled after at least 8 infant deaths.
Even Peloton’s Tread Plus, the subject of a high-profile recall after video of a child sucked under the tread went viral.
We found it being sold on Facebook marketplace for $8000.
Spotlight also located several products under safety alerts with no warning, including the Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker.
And it wasn’t just on Facebook, but also other resale sites like ebay and Craigslist.
We messaged several sellers. Not all responded, but those who did, said they either didn’t know or didn’t think it impacted their model. Some added a warning or removed the listing, after we contacted them.
An alarming number of recalled products remain in circulation.
In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported the average product return rate after a recall was just 6-percent, meaning 94-percent were not turned in or repaired and remain in circulation.
“We know that it's important to get the message out. We try and reach everybody, but it doesn't always happen,” Hoehn-Saric said.
Hoehn-Saric says a CPSC team regularly searches for recalled products online and finds them often. The agency issued 55,000 take-down requests to online resale sites last year alone.
In April, Hoehn-Saric sent a letter to Meta, owner of Facebook Marketplace, for the second time, urging the company “to prevent the listing of recalled products” especially “persistent illegal sales of the Rock ‘n Play.”
Moreschi: is the CPSC doing enough? Do you need to do more?
Hoehn-Saric: I think we always can do more, and we will try and do more so long as those products are out there. But we can't do it alone.
Spotlight on America requested an interview with Facebook, ebay, and Craigslist. Craigslist and ebay did not respond. Facebook declined an interview but sent a statement say:
“We are heavily invested in our approach to safety and have over 40,000 people across Meta working on safety and security, which includes teams proactively enforcing our commerce policies that prohibit the sale of recalled goods. Like other platforms where people can buy and sell goods, there are instances of people knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled goods on Marketplace. We take this issue seriously and when we find listings that violate our rules, we remove them.” - Meta spokesperson
Hoehn-Saric is not satisfied with Meta’s efforts.
“Honestly, we're still finding recalled products on their sites. So, whatever they're doing obviously is not enough,” Hoehn-Saric said.
The Vobr’s say time does not make the loss of their baby boy any easier.
“I miss his smile. He had the cutest little smile, and soft voice,” his mom said.
The family found the strength to talk about what happened to Cameron, hoping their tragedy can serve to warn others of the danger of inclined sleepers— especially with so many still out there in the community.
“If being able to do this raises awareness or saves even one child, it’s worth it," Cameron's dad said.
After our interview, the CPSC and The Boppy Company reissued its recall of the Boppy Pillow, announcing at least two more infant deaths, since the original product recall in 2021.
The commission urged all online marketplaces to stop selling it; and sent another letter to Facebook Marketplace specifically– saying the company is putting users “at risk” by allowing so many resales on its platform.