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Watch for signs of adoption scams

Adoption scams artists are some of the worst predators out there -- they know exactly how desperate their chosen victims are for a child and they dangle hope over their heads all for the sake of a quick buck.

It isn't unusual for someone running an adoption scam to simultaneously string along several hopeful would-be parents at once. For example, a North Carolina woman was just arrested for victimizing two women and two couples with an adoption scam -- and there wasn't even an actual pregnancy involved. She had convinced all the victims that she would allow them to legally adopt the child she claimed to be carrying -- in exchange for living expenses, Uber rides (supposedly back and forth to the doctor's office) and other items.

She has 16 previous convictions for obtaining property by false pretenses -- a charge that's roughly on the same level as getting rent-to-own furniture and then never making a payment. That hardly seems like it's a fair charge, given the massive emotional harm she's done her victims.

What can you do to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a similar adoption scam?

-- Go through a professional. While there's naturally some added expense to hiring an adoption professional or adoption agency, it's worth the cost to make certain that you aren't being scammed. These professionals know how to screen pregnant mothers and can even provide adoption insurance -- just in case things don't work out -- which can give you the money you need to try again.

-- Find out as much as you can about the birth parents. Consider it a red flag if it seems like the birth parents have no questions for you -- that's unusual if they care what happens to their unborn child. A scam artist, on the other hand, is going to be less interested in your parenting philosophy than they are your wallet

-- Make all your payments to the birth mother for her support (which is legal in most states) through your agent. If she contacts you directly asking for money for something and doesn't want the agency involved, consider that a huge warning signal that something isn't legitimate.

For more advice and help with the adoption process, talk to a family law attorney.

Source: consideringadoption.com, "Adoption Scams - How to Make Sure it Doesn't Happen to You," accessed April 14, 2017

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