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Gabby has a nasty habit. She offers babies to couples who want to adopt… but it’s a hoax, and the couples’ hopes are suddenly dashed. Now people are putting pressure on her to stop and she is hoping, perhaps in vain, to get medical help.In the US it’s increasingly common for couples who want to adopt a baby to advertise themselves on social media, in the hope of connecting with a pregnant woman preparing to place a child for adoption. Last summer I spoke to several couples who had done this successfully – or so it seemed. All had received Instagram messages from a young woman in Georgia, offering them exactly what they wanted.Unfortunately, the images on the woman’s Instagram accounts were stolen and behind each avatar lay Gabby, now 24, who was promising a child that didn’t exist. Each of the accounts contained a followers’ list full of distressed families.I wrote a story about what I had discovered, and hoped that it might prompt Gabby to stop deceiving people.I pictured her at home, reading the stories of grief-stricken couples who were already fragile from their infertility struggles. She’d realise the harm she’d done. She would feel ashamed. Perhaps she’d even apologise.After the article was published, Good Morning America invited one of Gabby’s victims, Samantha Stewart, to repeat on their morning news show the story she’d told me.But four days after Samantha had blinked back tears in front of four million viewers, Gabby struck again. The Larter family in Iowa received her messages – and replied by sending her the article, which had been widely circulated among the adoption community.
Messages sent to the Larters’ adoption page on Facebook from Gabby’s account
It seemed that nothing would stop her. But people are now trying. They range from total strangers, to close family and a television psychologist.Four years ago Gabby’s brother, Paul, received some worrying Facebook messages about his youngest sister. A woman wrote that she had met Gabby a number of times over the summer, believing she was going to adopt Gabby’s unborn child – she had even halted her fertility treatment to concentrate on this adoption. She claimed to have brought a crib and taken Gabby, then a high school student, shopping for baby clothes.But eventually she realised she had been tricked.Find out more
Read the original article: The fake baby Instagram adoption scamSince then the same scenario has been repeated many times. In fact, Gabby says she started when she was 16, and by one estimate she has deceived hundreds of couples.Paul hasn’t seen Gabby for about two years, but he and his other sister still get Facebook messages from her victims. So in October last year, they decided to take action, in the only way they could think of.Three days before Halloween, as other families across the US were stockpiling sweets and planning their costumes, they started a blog and made a single post: Beware of the Adoption Scam. “We, Gabby’s family, don’t know why she’s doing these things. We’ve talked to her, begged her to stop, tried to tell her how much she is hurting people (including her own family). But she simply won’t listen,” reads the blog post.”We don’t think there’s any financial gain. She simply enjoys hurting people.”
Amy Senior and Kylie Zavadil know Gabby’s avatars well, through their work with adoptive parents. They run an adoption website, and began collecting the names of clients she had tricked, with the initial aim of bringing a lawsuit a