Houston Woman Arrested for Adoption Fraud
HOUSTON—The owner of a child placement agency in Houston has been charged and arrested in a four-count indictment alleging an adoption fraud scheme, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Simone Swenson, 40, of Houston, owned and operated Sans Pareil Center for Children and Family Services LLC, which was licensed to operate as both a foster care and child placement agency.
The indictment was returned under seal July 29, 2015, and unsealed today upon her arrest. She is expected to make her initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge at 10:00 a.m. Monday, Aug. 3, 2015.
Sans Pareil catered to adoptive families that desired to participate in domestic private (non-CPS) adoption program. According to the allegations in the indictment, from on or about January 2013 to on or about January 2014, Swenson defrauded numerous prospective adoptive families with the same birth mother, a scheme known as double matching. As part of the scheme, she allegedly obtained money and property by means or materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.
The indictment alleges Swenson double matched birth mothers who expected to have only one baby to multiple adoptive families. Once money was wired and/or mailed into her account from those families, the charges allege that she would find a way, through lies and misrepresentations, to get out of the agreements.
According to the allegations, Swenson would contact prospective families about birth mothers but would not proceed until agency fees and expenses were paid up front. Swenson would allegedly make promises for a successful adoption. In reliance upon those representations, the indictment alleges prospective adoptive families hired attorneys and other adoption agencies, purchased airline tickets, booked hotel rooms, prepared and purchased items for the expected child’s nursery and transportation and incurred other expenses related to the prospective adoption.
The indictment alleges Swenson would and did charge fees without explanation, and the fees did not apply equally to all adoptive families as required by regulations.
According to the indictment, Swenson was always available and responsive to prospective adoptive families prior to receiving agency fees. However, once she received monies from adoptive families, she would become unavailable and would not return phone calls for long periods of time, if at all, according to the indictment. When she did have contact with the adoptive families, she would allegedly be brief, inconsiderate and provide vague information regarding the birth mothers and their delivery status.
In addition, Swenson rarely provided invoices or receipts to the adoptive families for their paid fees and expenses, according to the allegations. When adoptive families would ask Swenson for proof of payment, Swenson allegedly did not respond unless there was money to be collected from them.
According to the indictment, Swenson illegally collected $111,000 as part of the scheme.
In August 2012, Sans Pareil’s foster care license was revoked after regulators discovered money intended for foster families was used to pay mortgage payments and for visits to the nail salon.
Swenson is charged with two counts of mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud, each of which carries a possible 20-year prison term as well as a $250,00 maximum fine, upon conviction.
The investigation leading to the arrest was conducted by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tina Ansari is prosecuting this case.