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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Oklahoma

Monday, May 6, 2013

City Woman Sentenced To 60 Months In Prison For Adoption Scam

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – SHELLY RENEE HENSON, 40, from Oklahoma City, was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephen P. Friot to serve 60 months in prison for mail fraud related to an adoption scam, announced Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. Judge Friot also ordered Henson to serve three years of supervised release upon release from prison and to pay $49,361.47 in restitution to the victims.

According to court filings and information from the plea and sentencing hearings, between July 2008 and June 2011, Henson defrauded at least five adoption agencies and adoption law firms. Henson also defrauded several prospective adoptive parents from throughout the United States, including Florida, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Henson would falsely pose as an expectant mother and then approach the adoption agencies and law firms claiming she wanted to place her purported unborn child for adoption. Throughout the course of her scams, Henson requested and received money for living expenses, including rent, utilities, food, and other personal items. When completing the “birth mother” applications, Henson often provided false information regarding her personal identification, the conception of a child, and the identity of the putative birth father. Henson also provided fraudulent medical documentation such as pregnancy verifications, sonograms, blood work, laboratory results, and other pregnancy-related medical records that she created or altered on her computer.

Henson often initiated contact with the prospective adoptive parents with whom she had been matched by the adoption agencies and law firms. On one occasion, Henson engaged in a lengthy relationship with the prospective adoptive mother, meeting on one occasion, and exchanging approximately 800 text messages over a five-month period. Henson continued to communicate with this prospective adoptive mother up to the day she had falsely claimed she was being induced in Oklahoma City, knowing that this family had traveled from Kansas to Oklahoma City to be present during the delivery. On at least two occasions, Henson requested the prospective adoptive mothers accompany her in the delivery room when she knew that there would not be a delivery. In fact, after her arrest, Henson admitted that she had previously undergone a tubal ligation procedure several years before committing the adoption fraud.

Henson was charged by indictment on August 21, 2012, with 18 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and misuse of a social security number. Henson pled guilty to mail fraud on January 7, 2013.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles Brown.

Updated December 15, 2014