It is about time that law enforcement starts prosecuting agencies like this:
An Idaho woman has been indicted on charges of defrauding egg donors in the St. Louis area and elsewhere. Her alleged victims had eggs harvested from their bodies and didn’t receive the cash they’d been promised. Janae Helgerson, 31, was arrested in Idaho late yesterday. She’s heading to St. Louis to answer the charges from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Missouri. According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney, the FBI was involved in the investigation of Helgerson.
Helgerson was the owner and operator of Mid-West Egg Donation, which purported to connect couples looking to conceive with women interested in donating their eggs. The donors were promised between $4,000 and $5,000, with the client couples paying a fee to Mid-West Egg Donation to defray the donor’s fee and expenses.
Back in May, Amber Puckett from O’Fallon talked to Fox 2 Now here in St. Louis about her experience being defrauded by Mid-West Egg Donation, which she said she found through craigslist. Puckett told the station that she actually went through the egg harvesting procedure and never got any cash for her trouble — she was expecting $5,000. Mid-West Egg Donation has no Web presence other than a MySpace page with one friend (Tom, the default pal everyone gets) and a link to a dead Web site and a disconnected Idaho phone number.
Helgerson is charged with three felony counts of wire fraud and three felony counts of making false statements. The indictment says she’d been operating between 2006 and 2010. If convicted, Helgerson faces 20 years in prison and/or $250,000 in fines for each count of felony wire fraud and 10 years in prison and the same fines for each count of false statements.
Kudos to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Missouri. It is too bad they do not have jurisdiction in California as there remains hundreds of victims of the SurroGenesis scandal who continue to wait for law enforcement to prosecute those responsible for embezzling over $3,000,000 of their trust funds. It has been a two year wait already for these victims with no signs that an indictment is imminent in a case where culpability has gone uncontested.
To avoid being victimized by scurrilous operations like this, we encourage you to read this article that appears on the Infertility Resources website.
Update 2/4/11 at 3:30 PST: Here is a video account of the investigation and arrest: