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Baby-Selling Scam Focuses Attention on Surrogacy
It's a money-making scheme that's been described in court as a “baby-selling ring,” which had brokered deals for at least 12 unwitting couples before being dismantled by the FBI. Theresa Erickson, a noted San Diego fertility attorney, and Maryland attorney Hilary Neiman, who is well-known in surrogacy circles, were charged with wire fraud; the coordinator, Carla Chambers, was charged with "monetary transactions in property derived from illegal activity." All three pleaded guilty over the last few weeks in federal court. They have yet to be sentenced. Court documents lay out a plan that Erickson and Chambers came up with six years ago, before including Neiman in 2008: the women would arrange for surrogates to fly to Ukraine to be impregnated with donor embryos. When the surrogates were about 12 weeks along, the babies would be offered to prospective parents. Once a couple was found, Erickson would file a document in a California court, fraudulently claiming that the surrogacy agreement was in place from the start.