PINELLAS COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — A local woman is accused in a disturbing case of adoption fraud in which detectives say she faked her pregnancy and bilked a couple out of more than $13,000.
Detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office began their investigation in March of 2016, when they were notified by a local adoption agency of suspected fraud.
Todd and Alyssa Holmstrom, of Minnesota, applied with the Legacy of Adoption agency in 2014, to help them adopt a child.
Detectives say in July 2015, 31-year-old Carrie Cutler, who was pregnant at the time, signed a pre-birth agreement for the adoption with the Holmstrom family. Later that same month, Cutler provided ultrasound photos and indicated her expected date to give birth was in March 2016.
According to detectives, Cutler visited Brandon Regional Hospital-ER for complications with her pregnancy in August 2015. Cutler was informed by medical staff at the hospital that she had a miscarriage. The Holmstroms and the adoption agency were never informed of the miscarriage.
Detectives say three weeks after learning she had experienced a miscarriage, Cutler sent the Holmstroms a text message claiming “It’s a girl”, misleading the Holmstroms into believing she was still pregnant.
The Holstrom family continued to make thousands of dollars in payments to the adoption agency which indirectly went to Cutler for various living expenses, according to investigators.
In October of 2015, the Holmstroms traveled to Tampa from Minnesota for a scheduled meeting with Cutler. While waiting for Cutler to arrive, the couple was informed at the last minute that Culter was unable to meet them, so the Holmstroms traveled back to Minnesota.
In February 2016, detectives say Cutler sent a misleading text message to the Holmstroms and the adoption agency, claiming “the baby is fine” and a “C-section” was scheduled for March 2016.
On the expected due date in March 2016, Cutler contacted the Holmstroms and claimed that doctors had postponed her delivery date.
Detectives say that the Holmstroms traveled back to Tampa in March, in anticipation for the birth of the child. They met with Cutler for the first time in Pinellas County. Detectives said Cutler continued to mislead the couple and at one point during the Holmstroms meeting with Cutler, claimed that the baby was “kicking” as she pointed to her stomach.
Days later, Cutler contacted the Holmstroms and claimed that doctors miscalculated her original delivery date and she was not due to give birth for another six weeks. The Holmstroms returned home to Minnesota without a baby.
In late March 2016, the adoption agency obtained records from Brandon Regional Hospital, and learned that Cutler had a miscarriage seven months earlier, in August 2015.
According to detectives, Cutler received approximately $13,464 dollars, post-miscarriage for expenses that included rent, food, medical and phone.
Cutler was arrested at about 9:50 a.m. on June 8, 2016, at a Budget Inn Motel in Tampa. She was arrested on a Pinellas County warrant for two counts of Adoption Fraud. She was transported to the Hillsborough County Jail without incident.
The arrest affidavit said that Cutler is a transient.
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