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Adoption Scams Last Updated: Jan 17th, 2018 - 14:57:51

Iowa mom convicted in adoption scam charged with child endangerment
By Luke Nozicka, Des Moines Register
Jan 17, 2018, 14:54

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A central Iowa mother who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from running an adoption scam in 2015 has been charged with endangering her children, court records show.

Tracy Leann Bess-Thacker, 32, of Woodward was charged Monday with two counts of child endangerment after she held her son down in a bathtub of cold water by wrapping her hands around his neck Sunday night, authorities said. She told her son that if he told his father about the incident, "she will kill them," police wrote in court documents.

Her daughter also had a bruise and bump that Bess-Thacker could not explain, authorities said. She told police that her daughter had fallen on a dog kennel the day before, which caused scratches on her face. The bruise and bump, however, appeared on the opposite side of the scratches, and Bess-Thacker could not explain where they had come from, police said.

In court documents, Bess-Thacker said she was a stay-at-home mom and that three children lived with her. Her bond was set at $5,000 and she was scheduled to appear in court next week at the Dallas County Courthouse.

Bess-Thacker was arrested in February 2015 on charges she took $200 from a couple in DeWitt who were interested in adopting an unborn baby with which she pretended to be pregnant. She tricked the adoptive parents into giving her material and psychological support, authorities said, and later pleaded guilty to fifth-degree theft.

Tracy Leann Bess.JPG
Tracy Leann Bess (Photo: Tina Potthoff)

In 2011, she used 19 different aliases to connect with adoptive parents in multiple states, and was found guilty of filing a false report and suborning perjury. She used hospital photographs and a sonogram from a previous pregnancy to fool parents she connected with on the internet, police said.

"Tracy Bess is an internet predator who intentionally inflicts mental anguish and emotional distress on adoptive parents," then-Ankeny Police Chief Gary Mikulec said at the time.

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