Oklahoma City Police Say Adoption Scams Victimize At Least 20Oklahoma City policía decir adopción estafas estafar al menos 20Monday, June 6th, 2011
Police say an Oklahoma City woman and her convict boyfriend admitted to an adoption scam, confessing that she faked a pregnancy to trick couples wanting to adopt into paying her living expenses.
One victim lost more than $30,000, police reported.
Serena Carol Mathews, 41, and Scott Thomas Smith, 34, were being held Wednesday night in the Oklahoma County jail.
Police say two other women, Laura Cossey, 32, and Angela Michelle Wilkerson, 31, were conducting the same fraudulent activities.
“At least 20 separate victims … have been preyed upon by Serena Mathews, Angela Wilkerson and Laura Cossey,” Oklahoma City police inspector Phil Williams reported in a court affidavit Friday.
“It appears that the number of victims is continuing to grow and the dollar amounts of the fraud will be astronomical, notwithstanding the emotional and mental victimization,” the police inspector told a judge.
Charges are pending against Mathews and Smith.
Wilkerson, of Tecumseh, was charged April 15 in Oklahoma County District Court with child trafficking. She also is being held in Oklahoma County jail.
Cossey has not been arrested. She could not be reached for comment.
“There are numerous other arrests anticipated,” Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland said Wednesday. “They used the Internet to advertise.”
He said the investigation is in the early stages. “I believe there are other victims out there and we hope that they will come forward,” Rowland said.
Investigators spoke to Mathews and Smith after a man who had been paying her rent and expenses got her address from an adoption agency representative, police reported. The man and his wife had been led to believe labor was to have been induced May 23.
“Mathews admitted that she was … using the alias … Mariah Petree and was also receiving monthly payments from a man and his wife who thought she was pregnant and who were contracting with her to adopt her unborn child upon birth,” the police inspector reported in the court affidavit.
She said the man each month paid $650 in rent, $160 for electricity, $70 for her water bill, $70 for her gas bill and $250 for gift cards to cover toiletries, according to the affidavit. She was living in a modest southwest Oklahoma City house. Police said Smith had posed as her landlord.
She admitted her boyfriend made a fictitious driver’s license for her in the fake Petree name and that she gave a copy of it to the adoption agency, the inspector reported. She admitted she falsified the pregnancy test with urine from Wilkerson, whom she met through Cossey.
The police inspector said Smith, a convicted drug offender, “admitted … that he and Mathews had perpetrated this scheme on at least six other unsuspecting victims.” The inspector told a judge the two used “no less than a dozen aliases to victimize unsuspecting innocent people.”
Prosecutors allege Wilkerson pulled an adoption scam on three families at the same time while pregnant last December and January.
A police investigator, Robert Weemhoff, reported the victims “didn’t know other adoptive families were involved in the adoption process at the same time.”
“Wilkerson received money or had her bills paid by the victims or the adoption agencies they were working with,” Weemhoff reported.
Prosecutors say a Missouri family lost $12,075 and a Pennsylvania family lost $5,825 to Wilkerson’s scam.
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