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Building a Digital Defense Against Adoption Scams

Image this scenario: You’ve talked through all the concerns and you’re ready to do it. You’re ready to adopt a child. So, you get online and find the perfect adoption service provider and EVEN BETTER – they’ve found a match for you. But is it too good to be true? 

The FBI warns of adoption fraud – where unethical adoption service providers may take advantage of an emotionally charged process to deceive or defraud prospective parents during the adoption process. 

It can happen in any number of ways, but here are three common ones: 

Double matching. Double matching occurs when a baby is matched to more than one prospective adoptive parent. 

Fabricated matching. This scheme occurs when a prospective adoptive parent or parents are matched to a fictitious birth mother, a “birth mother” who’s not pregnant, or a birth mother who is not genuinely interested in placing a baby up for adoption.

Finally, the third common scheme is fee-related adoption schemes. These occur when adoption service providers require prospective adoptive parents to pay exorbitant fees upfront or on a recurring basis but fail to provide services promised. 

Victims can spend up to thousands of dollars on medical bills and fees associated with the adoption process, only to find that they’ve been scammed.  

If you’re looking to adopt, be sure of red flags to look out for: things like lack of proof of pregnancy, or inadequate details, like missing dates. An urgency to sign documents you don’t fully understand or to falsify statements or documents, can also be red flags. 

Make sure to do your homework on adoption service providers. Make sure of their qualifications such as professional licenses or education. Be careful if they are unusually hard to reach or quote highly negotiable or inconsistent fees. 

Finally, birth parents should recognize signs of an exploitative situation, which could include being coerced or manipulated into placing a child up for adoption, getting assigned prospective adoptive parents without being involved in the choice, or being pressured to follow through with an adoption or being told you will have to repay covered expenses if you change your mind. 

If you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of adoption fraud or are aware of scammers attempting to commit a form of adoption fraud, let the FBI know. Contact the FBI online through tips.fbi.gov. If this fraud is internet-related, you can also contact the FBI through www.ic3.gov

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