Thursday, March 3, 2011

Adoption scammers, who are they, why are they?

As I've posted many email examples of scammers, there are also in-person, domestic (not from Cameroon) scammers.  They are emotional scammers, who take your time and emotions for a ride, and there are the financial scammers, who are after money, and then there are folks that are a combination of both.  Lately, I've heard from several friends in the adoption world that the emotional scammers seem to be out and about lately.  (This has nothing to do with anything, it is just a coincidence.)  The stories are surprisingly very similar, but I know they weren't talking to the same person, because they all cite different elements of the stories (boyfriend, family, home details, other kids, etc.)  But they all share some distinct similarities.  Because scammers tend to follow some basic patterns, the social workers, attorneys and facilitators (if they are reputable and ethical) can spot these cheats a mile away and advise their clients accordingly.  But that requires that the clients listen, and when you have suffered through years of infertility, and then months or years of waiting for an adoption match and placement, you really want to believe *this could be the one*.  And that is exactly what the scammers are counting on.

A parable to sum up the experiences I've seen lately....

A waiting adoptive mom and her husband were contacted pretty soon after they became visible online.  The scammer told her that she was pregnant with twins (red flag) and pretty early in the conversations, the scammer told the prospective adoptive mother (P.A.M.) that she knew they were the ones to be the parents for her babies.  (red flag)  She refused to speak to the agency (red flag) and when she did, she wouldn't provide medical information (red flag), talked about money pretty early on and readily (red flag) and went on and on with long and winding stories (red flag.)  The scammer woman told the agency that she wanted $200,000 "for her troubles" and felt she deserved to have all of her medical bills paid for by the adoptive parents, and refused to go on medicaid, even though she qualified, because she felt she "deserved the best."  The hard part for me to read was that this PAM wanted to believe it was real so very much that she kept talking to this scammer woman for weeks after the agency strongly suggested she stop.  The scammer just kept stringing them along, talking about what she was feeling, how the babies were kicking, holding the phone to her belly (supposedly) so the adoptive mom could talk to them.  It was just a long, twisted example of mental illness.  The lesson is that though we want to think we are experts in this field, because we're educated and are experts in our field of work or our field of avocation, we have to let go and understand that we really aren't the experts and can't necessarily see the situation without emotion clouding our judgement.  It is best to trust the agency/attorney as they have our best interests in mind and don't want to see us taken for a ride any more than we do.  Bottom line, trust the experts.