The Brazil City Police Department is investigating the recent report of an unusual case of fraud.
"There are people in the world that want children so bad, they're desperate," Brazil Police Chief Dave Archer told The Brazil Times about the department's current investigation into its first adoption fraud. "And while they might not fall victim to any other type of scam, they could potentially fall for this type of scam out of that desperation to have a child."
Because of the nature of the case and the emotional toll on those involved, Archer said details about the victim, whom he confirmed does live in Clay County, would not be released.
"This is a very emotional matter," Archer said, adding he also is experiencing mixed emotions about the case. "This is trafficking humans, babies from another country for cash, and that is illegal. But I think it is important that the public is made aware this type of scam is out there."
Archer said the victim apparently answered an advertisement on a Wabash Valley the website HoosierTopics.com, which lists services and goods available for sale or trade in the area.
"It is unique that the victim initiated the contact in this case, but it is still a scam nonetheless," Archer said.
Website owner Wayne Meyer told The Brazil Times Tuesday evening about the challenges of trying to keep scammers off the popular site.
"In the last month, every free board in America has been hit by scammers from foreign countries like Africa," Meyer, who keeps in contact with other site managers across the United States, said. "They're everywhere."
Information on the "free ad" website, dated March 8, shows a post appeared stating "child adooption for childles homes - Daniela orphanage."
Meyer said several similar posts have been previously removed from the site, and this one, which slipped through the cracks, would be removed now that it has been brought to his attention.
Meyer released the e-mail -- email@example.com -- connected to the advertisement in order for people to be wary of a scam.
"We try to police the site, and started blocking foreign IP addresses but then they began to spoof IP addresses so they looked like they come from local IP servers," he said. "We're now checking each ad individually and do away with the questionable ones. People can also contact us if they think an ad is a scam to bring it to our attention."
Meyer said various technological updates to the site would soon be in place, which should keep scammers off the site, but people need to be wary when using sites like this one on the Internet.
"Use common sense and if you think you're being scammed contact the Indiana Attorney General's Office," Meyer said. "Local officials can't do a lot because these scammers are from foreign countries."
According to the BCPD case report, the victim initially was told to wire a $260 document-processing fee to a foreign country on April 13. A day or two later, the victim received pictures of the child and was told to wire a $1,900 adoption-processing fee. The victim was told another $3,100 in expenses for a health insurance policy was needed immediately to cover the child during the flight to America.
"That's when the victim felt something was wrong," Archer said. "After making some calls to an airline, the victim came to the department to report the scam. I think this is the first case like this in the area that our department has investigated. There are some very emotional aspects to this case. It's a proverbial can of worms, but what it all boils down to is someone is attempting to sell a child for money. In essence, a black-market baby."
To formally take on the rights and responsibilities of a parent as a way to become the guardian of a child is a lengthy legal process that could involve various state and federal statues, while adopting a child from another country adds elements of international law.
"You really need an attorney whenever involved in the legal process of adopting a child," Archer said. "It's just a good rule of thumb to have one."