Woman Charged with Faking Pregnancy & Crafting Adoption Scam

Woman Charged with Faking Pregnancy & Crafting Adoption Scam March 15, 2019
Photo Laura Trayte Mercury News

A Virginia woman was charged with nine felonies after she faked a pregnancy and entered into an adoption agreement with a California couple. Elizabeth Jones convinced Matt and Laura Trayte that she was pregnant and crafted an elaborate lie so the couple would agree to adopt the baby.

According to multiple outlets, Laura Trayte met Jones online in 2018. Trayte posted a Facebook status that she and her husband were looking to adopt a baby in February 2018. Jones found the post and contacted the couple to discuss the adoption of her baby.

Through Facebook communication, Jones told the couple she was pregnant with a baby girl and due in November 2018. Over text message, she sent the couple thousands of messages and photos of her ultrasounds. Jones even sent the couple a stuffed unicorn as a gift.

Laura Traytes told multiple media outlets that she became close to Jones and spent hours on the phone with her. She and her husband flew out to Virginia to have professional photos taken with Jones to announce the adoption. During the visit, the couple purchased gifts for Jones, rented videos for her children, and took her out to dinner.

As Jones’ due date approached, the Traytes met with an attorney to start the legal paperwork to adopt the child. She told WJHL,

“It was so exciting for me because a dream that I had been working on for ten years seemed like it was finally going to happen,” said Laura.

Not long after the couple met Jones in person, she told them she was having complications with the pregnancy. Jones told them that she believed that the baby would come early. Excited and nervous, the Traytes made arrangements to fly back to Virginia.

On November 29, Jones texted Laura to tell her that she had gone into labor. She told Laura that there was blood all over her Jeep and that the baby was crowning. Moments after the first set of texts, Jones messaged again to let them know the baby had been born.

Elated the couple traveled to meet Jones at the hospital, but were met with crushing news when they arrived.

When the couple arrived at the hospital, the nurse told them that the only Elizabeth Jones at the hospital was being seen for back pain. The couple visited her in her room and Laura says that Jones stared at her with a blank stare and showed no remorse.

Heartbroken the couple returned how to California and Jones continued to lie to the couple. Initially, she offered to send Laura a copy of the death certificate. Then she changed the story and said she miscarried at 13 weeks.

Finally, Jones fessed up and said she had never been pregnant. The Traytes were horrified with the news and wanted to seek justice for the crimes Jones committed against them.

When local reporters interviewed Jones, she said that she had not committed any crimes. She went on to say that her actions were morally wrong but not criminal.

Not satisfied with Jones response, the Traytes reported the crime to Wise County police. Police notified the couple that Jones was on probation for previous theft convictions. She had been given a 5 year suspended prison sentence for the crimes.

As a result, the judge in the case revoked her probation. Prosecutors reviewed the case and decided to charge Jones with nine felony larceny charges. Her previous criminal record played a role in the prosecutor’s decision to move forward with the matter.

Last week a grand jury indicted Jones on nine felonies related to the adoption scam. All of the charges relate to the trip the couple took to Virginia to take photos. The charges allege that Jones accepted the gifts under false pretenses.

Jones continues to deny any criminal wrong-doing. She has only admitted that she was never pregnant.

With a history of ripping people off, Jones needs to spend some time behind bars to learn a lesson. She preyed on the couple because they were in a vulnerable position. By convincing the couple that she was pregnant, the couple took significant steps to prepare for their new baby.

At this point, the Traytes grieve the loss of a baby they believed was coming to their family and the betrayal of someone that became a friend.

Despite the fact that Jones has an extensive criminal record, there were no details if the couple completed a background check on Jones. A background check would have queued them into her deceptive behavior and criminal charges.

As a result, the Traytes have learned a painful lesson not to trust strangers on the internet. They told Mercury News if the case goes to trial they will testify against her.

*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.

She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.

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  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    That’s. Messed. Up.

  • Sastra

    I’m not sure a criminal background check on Jones would have given the Traytes good reason to assume she was lying about the pregnancy — unless the thefts involved lying about pregnancies. My guess is that many if not most women who give babies up for adoption have problems which makes caring for another mouth to feed very hard. A criminal record would impact on job prospects, etc. In retrospect it might sound like a red flag, but I don’t think it necessarily would be a deal breaker. The Traytes would want to be realistic.

  • I’d ask who the hell does that, but… *waves hand at post* People really will do anything for attention or money.