False Labor

68706255 - forgetful mother holding baby girl at home

False labor during a pregnancy can feel like a true contraction and tricks many mothers into thinking their baby is about to arrive. A Carolina Beach, North Carolina woman is the focus of today’s fraud article because she committed Medicaid Fraud while trying to trick at least 16 individuals into believing that they could adopt her baby if they provided monetary support during her false pregnancy. The judge delivered the news of her punishment without much celebration. (Now, she’s got the baby blues because she’s headed to prison instead of the nursery.)

Adoption can be really expensive. International adoptions can cost around $44,000, while the average price of a U.S. adoption totals about $40,000. The average timeline for adopting a child takes around one to two years, except for China, which can be longer than five years. So, you can understand how the North Carolina woman’s pregnancy scam played upon the heartstrings of her victims.

The Carolina Beach woman posted her advertisements on adoption websites and social media to entice people who were interested in adopting a baby. She attracted her victims from around the country and was quite successful in getting the prospective parents to send her money for food, housing, cell phone bills and doctor appointments.

Here’s a closer look at this fraudster’s birth plan: When the purported pregnant mother received requests for proof of pregnancy from prospective parents, she provided an authentic ultrasound. (She paid a pregnant friend $20 for her ultrasound. Then she forwarded the image with her name on it to her victims for proof.) She also used positive pregnancy test results purchased from the same friend to obtain Medicaid benefits through North Carolina’s Department of Social Services. (What she didn’t plan on was unhappy customers calling in to the Carolina Beach police station. Obviously, this induced an investigation.)

The Carolina Beach Police Department set up a tip line for others who may have been victimized by today’s fraudster and the calls began rolling in. (You could say that the couples impacted by this deceptive scam experienced more than morning sickness. They were emotionally scarred by the false hope that this woman promised regarding the prospects of becoming parents.)

Today’s fraud article also indicates that this conviction was not the first for the North Carolina woman. She was previously convicted of renting out vacation properties she and her husband did not own to people online. When their victims arrived to check in, they couldn’t get into the building, or they would arrive at an empty lot.

The 39-year-old woman from Carolina Beach pleaded guilty to obtaining property by false pretenses, Medicaid Fraud, and using a computer to perpetuate fraud. The judge sentenced her to 50 – 64 months in prison. Another sentence was suspended for three years of supervised release.

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, In nationwide adoption scam, NC woman admits to scheme involving fake ultrasound, DA says,” published by The Charlotte Observer on December 17, 2018.

The scam started to unravel when a couple from Ohio called the police in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, according to WWAY. They told police that they had been sending money to a woman who said she was pregnant and would let them adopt her baby, the television station reports.

Prosecutors say the North Carolina woman posted on adoption website and social media looking for people who are trying to adopt a baby, according to WECT. She had victims around the country send her money to cover food, housing and doctor appointments, the station reports. But she wasn’t actually pregnant.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.