A birthmother from Tucson,Arizona, accused of defrauding an adoptive couple from Boston, Massachusetts was sentenced to 100 days in jail and four years probation this week.
Like many other adoptive parents who become victims of fraud, Cindy Cantrell and her husband, Jack McHugh, fell victim to Karla Vargas’ plan to take money from them while never intending to place her twins for adoption. Her babies were born in November 2015. While still pretending to be pregnant, Vargas accepted money from Cantrell and McHugh, for purposes of adoption.
The judge ruled that Vargas used her pregnancy to string along the adoptive couple. He noted they invested time, money and emotion while bonding to the what they thought were unborn children, whom Vargas knew they would never be adopting.
The judge pointed out that Vargas had the right to change her mind about the adoption and had she told the adoption agency and/or the adoptive couple at the time she decided against placing, she would not be facing jail time or probation. The judge told Vargas that if she violates her probation and ends up back in his courtroom he will send her to prison, adding by that point she will have used up all of everyone’s good graces.
Vargas used a common technique that woman who never intend to place their child for adoption use. She told the adoptive couple that her sister, Luciana Lopez, was her landlord. They added extra money above the amount of rent due and the family paid Lopez, believing she was the landlord. For her involvement, Lopez is facing the same charges as Vargas. Her case is still pending.
Cantrell and McHugh paid living expenses totaling $6,014 over a four to five month time period. More than the money is the emotional pain the prospective adoptive parents experience. In a letter to Vargas, Cantrell wrote: “Our final message to you, Karla, is simple. Get it together. Stop lying. Stop stealing. Stop hurting people. You are fortunate to have so many children, and even if non of them live with you, you still can and should become a mother and productive citizen of which they can feel proud.” None of Vargas’ twelve children live with her. The twins were removed from the home in May 2016.
More adoptive families and adoption agencies need to pursue adoption scammers and bring justice to their actions. It is the only way to curb this activity that rarely is punished.