Fake offer of child to adopt is cruelest form of robbery

ROGER SIMON

August 30, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

If you turn to the classified section of today's paper, you will probably find an ad from a couple trying to adopt a baby.

"Happily married childless couple, financially secure, longs to give your newborn a warm and caring home," one such ad reads. "Medical/Legal expenses paid."

Last year, a woman named Angela Andrews went to her local library in suburban Chicago, got papers from Baltimore, Los FTC Angeles and several places in between and began copying down such ads.

Andrews, 21, was a crook who knew that if people want something desperately enough, they will overcome everything, including their own good sense, to get it.

And what is more desperate than couples searching for a baby?

The year before, when Andrews was pregnant, she scammed two couples out of $6,000 by promising them they could adopt her child.

But when her daughter, Jennifer, was born in April, 1991, Andrews kept the baby and kept the money.

So when Andrews got pregnant again in January 1992, she knew she had another gold mine growing inside her.

And she began calling couples looking for babies. She told them she had been raped in a Red Lobster restaurant by a fellow employee, was pregnant and didn't want to raise the baby. Were they interested?

Were they ever.

By the time Andrews was done selling her fetus, she had scammed about $50,000 from five couples and one adoption agency, eventually giving her baby up for adoption to a California couple for $11,000.

Today, Andrews is in prison in Illinois serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and theft. She will be eligible for parole in half that time, but she doesn't see why she should stay even that long.

"I wasn't the only one doing it," she said. "I'm just the only one who got caught."

Andrews scammed couples out of cash, airplane tickets, living expenses, clothes, furniture, a video camcorder and a 52-inch television set. One couple even paid the $125 veterinarian bill for Andrews' sick cat.

"My knees went weak. My heart was beating so fast. I was so nervous because I wanted her to like me," said Rose Garguilo, 34, who was scammed out of $7,500 by Andrews.

But didn't Garguilo know she was taking a risk giving money to this woman she barely knew?

"You don't really care because you're so desperate," Garguilo said. "It's pathetic."

One couple flew Andrews 3,000 miles to their home in San Francisco. "When I took her shopping it blew my mind how quickly she grabbed for things when someone else was buying," the woman conned out of more than $4,000 by Andrews said.

"The only reason people liked me was because I had something they wanted," Andrews said. "People used me, so I was going to use them back."

But what was she going to tell the five couples expecting the same baby after the baby was born?

"In the end, you tell them you have changed your mind and will keep the baby," Andrews said.

Andrews was finally done in by a little greed and a lot of bad luck. When she tried to scam one more couple with her rape-in-the-Red-Lobster story, that couple thought it sounded familiar, compared notes with another couple and they all realized they were dealing with the same woman.

So Andrews went to jail. Her first child, Jennifer, is being raised by relatives. (Jennifer's father, who is Andrews' boyfriend, is in prison for taking part in the same scam.)

But what of her second child, the one she gave up for adoption to a California couple for $11,000?

Now Andrews has changed her mind and has decided she wants the baby back.

"I'm her mom, and she should be with me," Andrews says from prison.

To me, Andrews is as cruel as any robber. Crueler. Andrews devastated her victims the way few robbers do.

And what qualifications does Andrews have to be a mother?

Biology. She had two kids, both of whom she peddled like fish.

Andrews now wants an early release from prison.

"I have already learned my lesson," Andrews says. "It is not going to take another four years to learn it."

But that is what I fear: That Andrews has learned her lesson all too well.

And when she gets of prison, she will have the opportunity to make more babies and more cash.

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