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February 13, 2007 permalink
A pregnant woman scammed adoptive parents by holding her baby out to four different adoptive couples, getting each to contribute to her living expenses. The law is treating her as a criminal.
Before getting too outraged at her behavior, it is good to remember the aphorism "you can't cheat an honest man". All of the couples had baby-stealing as their objective. Glenn Sacks points out that nowhere in the article is there mention of the father, who deserved primary rights to the baby after the mother relinquished custody. A curious sidebar is that the high levels of confidentiality customary in the adoption business facilitate this kind of scam.
Detroit News Online
February 13, 2007
One baby, 4 adoptive couples
Wyandotte woman charged with felony; police say she used pregnancy to scam money from 3 families.
Iveory Perkins and Oralandar Brand-Williams / The Detroit News
WYANDOTTE -- A 33-year-old woman is accused of using her then-unborn baby to scam money from three unsuspecting couples eager to adopt her child, authorities say.
Heather Roshelle Collins of Wyandotte allegedly made arrangements with four adoption agencies to receive money for her living expenses in exchange for giving up her child to one of their clients.
The problem was that there was only one child and four couples who planned on adopting the baby.
Collins was charged Monday with two counts of obtaining money in excess of $1,000 under false pretenses. She faces up to five years in prison on the felony charges.
"Using an unborn baby to defraud parents is despicable," said Attorney General Mike Cox in a statement. "My office will bring the full weight of the law to bear in this case."
Authorities claim money was the primary motive for Collins' actions. The prospective adoptive couples allegedly paid Collins' rent, car payments, cell phone bills and other living expenses.
Cox said Collins was sending her bills to all the couples and often being paid twice for the same expense. Authorities haven't disclosed how much money the couples paid out.
One of the prospective adoptive moms, Christina, 37, who lives in Metro Detroit but did not want her last name or city identified, said she and her husband were duped by Collins' "lies upon lies."
She said Collins' strategy appeared to be to string them along from August to October when, "in reality, she had the baby five days after we met up."
"She strung us along," said Christina. "She played us."
The couple paid Collins $3,000, plus $3,000 to the adoption agency, Christina said. They met Collins through a Dearborn-based adoption agency.
"We were paying her rent for a couple of months as well as a large utility bill."
In December, they adopted an infant. "It still doesn't take the sting out of being victimized," she said. "I just don't want (Collins) to walk away unpunished and have a good laugh on us."
Privacy laws that protect adopted children and their families prevent adoption agencies from sharing information with one another, said Matt Frendeway, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office.
"We found no evidence that the agencies were involved in any fraud," Frendeway said. "Adoption agencies don't have the ability to communicate back and forth."
Collins ultimately gave up her child to another couple, but allegedly continued to accept money from the other three couples.
Michigan State Police officers arrested Collins at her home Monday. She was arraigned in 27th District Court before Judge Randy Kalmbach. Her bond was set at $20,000, and a preliminary exam is set for Feb. 22.
"This case of fraud is particularly devastating because it victimized families who desired nothing more than to welcome a child into their home," said Michigan State Police Director Peter Munoz.
Anna Layne has never met Collins, but has received a lot of knocks on her door recently from people seeking her.
Layne lives in the home that Collins rented out two years ago.
"I have people coming to my house looking for her, the police have been here for her and three guys knocked on my door recently asking for her," Layne said. "I don't know where she is."
You can reach Iveory Perkins at (734)462-2672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Detroit News