The ad, which was brought to investigators' attention by concerned residents in Manitowoc, Wis., shortly after it was posted Feb. 15, became the subject of an active investigation.
"Obviously this was a concern of ours because human trafficking does exist," said detective Dave McCue. "Based on the content of the ad, we believed that a 4-year-old child was in danger. We believed that the ad was legitimate."
Police became even more worried when one of the people who reported the ad responded at police request and was told the 1-year-old had been sold for $1,200, but that another infant could be acquired, the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter said Thursday.
After acquiring a search warrant to trace the IP address for the sender, detectives arrived at Roncalli High School and spoke to a 17-year-old student who confessed to posting the ad as a joke and expressed remorse for the all-too-serious response.
The teen, who was not identified, was issued a $681 fine in lieu of criminal charges.