PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A second adoption fraud case was reported in Pinellas County this week, with a woman accused of scamming a hopeful couple out of money with the promise of a baby.
Angelica M. Lopez, 30, was arrested Friday.
According to detectives with the Economic Crimes Unit, while Lopez was serving time in the Pinellas County Jail, she selected Safety Harbor couple Gregory and Amaia Garbee to adopt her unborn child.
On Dec. 20, she signed a pre-birth agreement to let the family adopt the baby. In return, the Garbees signed an Acceptance of Adoption Agreement for Fees on Dec. 27. Under the deal, the family agreed to pay Lopez's living expenses until the child was born.
Lopez and the Garbees communicated regularly before and after her Feb. 7 release from jail.
On April 4, Lopez gave birth. However, she didn't tell the couple and pretended to still be pregnant, sending them old photos of her swollen feet and stomach on April 17, deputies said.
The Garbees sent three checks totaling $1,100 after the baby's birth.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's Child Protection Investigation Unit had begun an investigation about Lopez's child and learned of the birth.
Detectives spoke with Lopez, and they say she admitted to signing the adoption agreement, receiving funds after the child's birth and backing out of the adoption agreement without notifying the Garbees.
She has been charged with adoption deception and taken to Pinellas County Jail. The baby has been placed with a caregiver.
This is the second adoption fraud case this week in Pinellas County. Ceara Rae Stowe, 26, was accused of promising her twins to a Nebraska couple, then backing out of the deal after getting money after the babies' birth.
Deputies said Lopez and Stowe were housed together at the jail and agreed to have their babies adopted at the same time. It's not known, however, if they planned together.
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