NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Investigators say a local woman’s promises of giving up a baby for adoption were nothing more than a nationwide scam.
Heidi Bessert and Stephanie Stump: two women looking into adoption. What do they have in common? They were both allegedly scammed by Wendy George.
“I had an adoption website on Facebook, and she sent me a message asking if I was still looking to adopt,” Heidi Bessert, victim of the scam, said.
A second victim, Stephanie Stump had a similar story.
“She wanted to give her baby up for adoption,” Stump said. “So I just started talking to her, and she asked me if I wanted to adopt her baby, and I was like well, maybe.”
According to the women, George had a system and would cover her tracks. she sent photos of sonograms and of her body while pregnant. She would also ask for assistance with her rent and other finances.
Bessert said George asked for help with rent, food, and her cell phone bill.
George made her first court appearance by video from jail this afternoon on four charges of obtaining property by false pretense.
She had a bond of $35,000, but District Attorney Ben David tried to set it at a $1 million because he said George is a flight risk who has run before.
“We thought it was important to set the bond high because the two things that you look at in setting a bond are risk of flight and dangerousness to the community,” David said.
Women like Bessert and Stump feel emotionally damaged.
Stump told us why she trusted George.
“She just gave me so much information that I guess that she just made me feel like she was my friend I guess.,” Stump said.
“How could you do that to somebody?” Bessert said. “She told me basically she would never do that to somebody.”
Bessert still doesn’t understand how something like this could happen.
George is still in the New Hanover County Jail under a $500,000 secured bond.