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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Baby Thief

She matched pregnant women who planned to relinquish their baby to couples seeking to adopt. The couples paid a fee for the adoption service and a fee to cover the birth mother’s expenses. A word of caution to couples seeking to adopt—verify the service is a licensed child-placing agency.

The unlicensed service remained in operation for four years. The owner claimed to be a licensed social worker—she wasn’t. She routinely sent adoption opportunity information to couples, which included details about the pregnant woman and her pregnancy.

This scheme included the owner placing one soon-to-be born baby with several adoptive couples, collecting multiple fees. She also placed fabricated placements where there was no pregnant woman and collected a fee from those couples. The fees were non-refundable but could be rolled-over to the next adoption attempt. She charged couples $15,000-$25,000 per adoption.

Most of the adoptions failed supposedly due to a birth mother changing her mind, along with other manufactured reasons to support the lies. One such reason referenced in the court documents describes the business owner telling the adoptive couple that someone shot and killed the pregnant woman and the baby didn’t survive. In reality, the pregnant woman, unborn baby and the pending adoption were all fabricated.

The fraudster told one woman preparing to welcome their adopted son, that he had only lived 45 minutes after birth. The couple were heartbroken and became suspicious. This heartbroken woman contacted other women planning to adopt through the same agency. A grim picture materialized. One woman who she’d spoke with who had experienced a ‘failed’ adoption said,

“It’s a pain I’ve never felt before.

The heartbroken woman called the FBI. They began an investigation.

Rather than go to trial, the fake adoption coordinator pleaded guilty to wire fraud and admitted to all eighteen counts outlined in her indictment—operating without a license, defrauding people seeking to adopt children, and falsely claiming to be a social worker. A federal judge sentenced her to over ten years in federal prison where there is no early release unless you earn credits through a work program. The judge also sentenced her to make restitution to her victims and forfeit any real or personal property she owned, including money.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. District Court, ABC-WXYZ

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