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ANKENY, Iowa — An Ankeny woman was arrested in connection to an elaborate adoption scam.

Ankeny police said Tracy Bess-Thacker, 29, tricked a DeWitt couple into thinking she was willing to give her baby up for adoption.

“They talked, did numerous text messages, and actually met about a day later from their initial talking,” says Detective Dan Vallejo with the Ankeny Police Department.

Detective Vallejo said the couple gave Bess-Thacker $200 to help with expenses only to find out she wasn’t pregnant at all and had been scamming them the entire time.

“She showed them sonograms of one of her children and also showed them pictures where she stated she was in the hospital but those were pictures from her past pregnancy,” said Detective Vallejo.

Police say Bess-Thacker searched the internet and signed onto adoption websites in order to lure couples into her scam. They say this isn’t the first time she’s used a similar scam.

“From having done this before she knows what she`s doing, she knows what to say to these families in order for her own gain,” said Detective Vallejo.

Police say Bess-Thacker used this scam in 2014 and again in 2011 connecting with prospective adoptive families in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Hawaii, and Kansas, using 19 different aliases.

“People want babies really badly so there are people who will exploit that,” says Bill Pearce the Director of Adoption Associates of Iowa.

Pearce says scammers prey on parents who are eager to adopt.

“Watch your own emotions because this is something that you want really badly to be true and it`s like any other scam if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.”

Pearce suggests doing your research, hiring an attorney, an adoption professional and following your instincts.

“If you go through the right steps you`re going to put someone between you and the birth mom, you`re not going to hand any money over an you`re going to be working with a professional. So if you really stick with the person you`ve hired to help you do this, you won`t get scammed,” says Pearce.

Bess-Thacker is charged with 4th degree theft.

Ankeny Police are encouraging anyone who’s been contacted by Bess-Thacker for a similar scam to contact Detective Dan Vallejo at 515-289-5240.

She’s also used the name Tracy Leann Bess.

For a complete list of adoption agencies available in the state, click here.