GARY, Ind. (CBS) — Police say the victims come from all over the country — people who wanted to be parents, but now say they got scammed on an adoption Web site.
As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, a Gary woman is under investigation.
The Web site sounds and looks pretty innocent, but alleged victims say Tinkerbell Adoption Consultants is anything but. It promises to be the place where dreams begin, but some licensed adoption agencies say the site is cheating families out of thousands of dollars in fees.
One adoption agent told her the situation makes her “very angry, very angry that someone could fraud a family who is seeking to build their family through adoption.”
The website lists details on pregnant women with their age, race and other information. It’s part of what Sheila Davis, of Heaven Sent Adoption Services, says attracts people to the site and gives them false hope.
Davis says she’s known about the woman behind the website since 2008. She has talked with families who say they’ve tried the site, which police believe has been running for the past year.
The victims say they paid thousands of dollars and got nothing in return.
“She hooks them with this mom has chosen you and you know you’re gonna have a baby and we need to get the paperwork and you need to send me the $5,000,” said Davis.
“Within a week of getting the money, even days with a couple of them, communication drops off. She told one of them that the baby had died,” she said. “I mean just horrible things. And these families have to rebuild after that.”
“Through investigations we determined that there were couples that paid more of a fee when they were identified with a birth mother,” said Indiana State Police Detective Jeffrey Matson.
This week, Matson served a search warrant at the home of the woman allegedly behind the site.
“We’re in the process of sifting through all of that for examination,” Matson said.
Matson says there could be countless victims from across the country. He hopes more states will launch their own investigations into the cases.
“What we have is three confirmed victims. It’s such an intensive investigation that as I was going along word of mouth spread that this suspect was under investigation,” Matson said, “And then I started getting more information on different victims. And because it’s an Internet-related crime, they’re all over the country.”
We reached out to the woman listed as the owner of Tinkerbell Adoption Consultants. We could not reach her, but police say they interviewed her.
Police urge people who want to adopt to check to make sure they have a business license in the state in which they’re matching families.
There is also a website that serves as a clearinghouse. You can find it at www.adoptionscams.net.
Police say the woman behind the Tinkerbell Adoptions Consultants website does not hold a license in Indiana.