(CBS Detroit) — FBI Detroit is warning anyone involved in the adoption process to report it to federal officials if they believe it may be a fraudulent scheme.

Officials say anyone going through the process should be aware of common schemes:

  • Double matching occurs when a birth mother’s baby is matched to more than one prospective adoptive parent.
  • Fabricated matching occurs when prospective adoptive parents are matched to a fictitious birth mother, a birth mother who is not pregnant, or a birth mother who is not genuinely interested in placing her baby for adoption.
  • Fee-related schemes include adoption service providers requiring prospective adoptive parents to pay exorbitant fees upfront or on a recurring basis but failing to provide services promised.
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Fraudulent adoption service providers may:

  • Misrepresent professional licenses or education
  • Make unsolicited contact to sign up birth mother or prospective adoptive parents
  • Be difficult to reach via phone or email, despite multiple attempts
  • Unnecessarily control communications between adoption participants
  • Quote highly negotiable and inconsistent fees
  • Encourage prospective adoptive parents to pay expenses immediately to avoid losing out on opportunity to adopt
  • Demonstrate a pattern of requesting additional unexpected fees throughout the process
  • Make guarantees about the adoption process, such as:
    • Matching within a specific time frame
    • Birth parents’ willingness to adopt
    • How quickly and easily the adoption will be legally finalized.

In 2019, a Macomb County woman pleaded guilty to fraud in an adoption scheme. Officials said Tara Lee, of New Haven, schemed to collect money from couples who wanted to adopt children.

Lee wasn’t licensed to arrange adoptions and at times matched more than one set of adoptive parents to a birth mother. She also matched couples to birth mothers who didn’t exist, federal prosecutors said.

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She was sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison in February 2020, according to The Detroit News. She was also ordered to pay more than $1 million restitution.

If you believe you have been victimized by an adoption fraud scheme or believe you may be working with a fraudulent adoption service provider, report it to FBI Detroit at 313-965-2323, call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or submit tips online at tips.fbi.gov.

A report can also be filed with the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) at ic3.gov.

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