How to Avoid a Fraudulent Egg Donor or Surrogate Agency
|IHR.com directory of egg donor programs|
Currently, the businesses of egg donation and surrogacy are not regulated by government agencies. Anyone can open an egg donor or surrogate agency without obtaining a license. Although, the vast majority of agencies are honest, there have been a few fraudulent agencies, over the years, which should alert prospective recipients to do their due diligence in selecting an agency.
This web page provides information to help prospective recipients, intended parents, egg donors, and surrogates to avoid fraudulent egg donor and surrogate agencies.
This page contains three sections:
Here are some helpful general articles which explain how to avoid scams and fraudulent agencies:
- Predator Surrogate Agencies - How To Avoid Becoming A Victim -
Andrew Vorzimer offers these tips:
- Do your due diligence which requires that you actually visit the agency you plan on retaining.
- Insist on a face-to-face meeting at the agency's principal place
of business. While there, be sure to meet the staff that are listed on
the agency's website.
- Avoiding Adoption Fraud and Scams - Adoption.com offers these tips
for avoiding adoption fraud:
- Trust your instincts
- Ask the hard questions
- Know the law
- Listen to experience
- Friday Legal Updates - Fertility & Insurance, Kansas Agency, Baby
Scammer, Embryo Dispute, Custody Battle, NY Stalls Same Sex Bill &
Adoption Agency Bankruptcy
- FBI - Surrogacy Scam Played on Emotions of Vulnerable Victims -
discusses the recent surrogacy "baby selling" scam and offers these
- Do your due diligence to find out the average costs of surrogacy services (there should be no "facilitator" fees).
- Make sure you have a signed agreement in place before the start of any medical tests or procedures.
- Be leery if you're offered a last-minute surrogacy arrangement and are told the original intended parents changed their minds (that rarely happens).
- If at all possible, work with a local attorney or agency that you can meet with in person.
- Ask lots of questions about the process, about financial arrangements, about the surrogates or biological parents, until you're completely satisfied.
- If you still don't feel quite right about it, find another
attorney or agency that you are comfortable with.
Based on past fraudulent agency tactics, as well as the above tips, here are some actions that you can do to avoid agency scams.
1. Carefully review escrow company issues
You will be paying lots of money for the services, so you may want to use an escrow company. If you have an escrow company you work with, you might bring them into the situation as an independent company, rather than use the egg donor program escrow company.
Or, carefully review the agency's escrow company. If the donor or surrogate agency owns the escrow company, this is a serious potential conflict of interest.
- Surrogenesis - They (secretly) owned their escrow company. This would have been difficult to know, however, in order to avoid this problem, recipients/IPs might use their own escrow company.
2. Is the egg donor agency audited by an independent company?
3. If the street address is not on the website, then be very leery of the agency.
You should see a street address where you can go visit and inspect.
- B Coming - They only had (and still have in Oct 2011) a post office box on their website
4. If the names of owners/staff are not on the website, then be very leery of the agency.
In addition to at least the owners name, you should also expect to see
a biography of the owner.
5. If you see a fast buildup of the agency, then review them more carefully.
- Surrogenesis - They built their business extremely fast. Many of the office locations listed on their website were simply post office boxes.
6. Ensure that the agency is doing **their** due diligence
As a surrogate or donor, it may seem easier of the agency is not doing a full due diligence on you. Although this may make it easier to get accepted as a surrogate or donor, if they have really lax standards, this can indicate a fraudulent or very unprofessional agency.
- Theresa Erickson, Hilary Neiman, and Carla Chambers - They hired surrogates and didn't do a full due diligence on those surrogates.
7. Trust your gut and talk with friends
Typically we all get little red flags that go off inside when something is askew. If you pay attention to these flags, it may help you to followup questions to clarify something that seems off. Also, if always helps to discuss these questions with other people that you trust.
- Theresa Erickson, Hilary Neiman, and Carla Chambers - When two of the surrogates were interviewed they said toward the end, there were red flags that came up that said "something is off here."
Although the vast majority of egg donor agencies are reputable, there have been some fraudulent agencies. Here are some examples of fraudulent/scam agencies:
1. Theresa Erickson, Hilary Neiman, and Carla Chambers
In 2011, Theresa Erickson (California attorney), Hilary Neiman (Maryland adoption/surrogacy agency), and Carla Chambers (Nevada surrogacy facilitator) were found to be operating a baby-selling ring. Theresa Erickson pleaded guilty in Aug 2011.
- Surrogacy Scam Played on Emotions of Vulnerable Victims - Sept 2011 FBI article
2. B Coming
In 2009, dozens of couples alleged that they paid B Coming many thousands of dollars and did not receive services. As of Oct 2011, they are still operating their business and their website is still on the Internet.
In 2008 and 2009, it became apparent that this agency (owned by Tonya Harding) was taking money from clients and not delivering services.
- Peeling Away The Layers Of The Onion That Is Tonya Collins (4/18/09)
- The Fraud Perpetrated By Tonya Collins, SurroGenesis & Michael Charles (4/14/09)
- More Information On SurroGenesis, Michael Charles & Tonya Collins (3/14/09)
- Fetal Foreclosure - If you stop paying a surrogate mother, what happens to the fetus? (3/24/09)
4. Options National Fertility Registry
5. Angels In Waiting Surrogacy Center
In 2008 and 2009, this agency (operating in Illinois) was accused of taking money from a recipient couple and not delivering services. The owners closed Angels In Waiting Surrogacy Center and re-opened as Midwest Surrogacy Center.