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 websites 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.
It was all a scam. On Friday, Wendy George, 39, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of obtaining property by false pretenses, and one count each of medical fraud and of using a computer to perpetuate a fraud, according to the Wilmington Star News. A judge sentenced George to up to five years in prison, followed by three years on supervised release, the newspaper stated.
Prosecutors said George found couples on websites like Domestic Adoption Support Network, Expectant Moms Thinking of Adoption and Mommy’s Angels Support Group, according to a story from WWAY published in March 2017. The station reported that George scammed more than a dozen people who thought they were paying George so they could adopt a baby.
George paid a friend who was actually pregnant $20 to get an ultrasound with George’s name on it so she could send the images to her victims, WECT reports. She also gave a positive pregnancy test to the state Department of Social Services so she could get Medicaid benefits, according to the station.
This is not George’s first time facing fraud charges. In 2012, she was convicted of obtaining property by false pretense in a vacation rental scam in New Hanover County, WWAY reported. She and her husband, prosecutors said, rented vacation properties that they did not actually own to people online, according to the station, and in some cases the victims would show up to find an empty lot.