Accused surrogacy scammer arrested

FRESNO, Calif.

The business Collins ran was based in Modesto, but she will face her federal charges here in Fresno.

A federal grand jury issued the indictment accusing 36-year-old Tonya Collins of fraud. She was arrested at her home in the Sacramento area Friday.

Collins was running SurroGenesis USA, a surrogacy firm that served as a 'broker' between egg donors, surrogates and prospective parents.

"She did pay legitimate expenses," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stanley Boone said. "She did pay for donors to pay for some of their expenses. But she also paid herself a substantial amount of money."

Boone also said Collins ran her scam operation from 2006 to 2009. The indictment said Collins also created a fake financial firm. She claimed the firm was independent of SurroGenesis.

"The clients of SurroGenesis would be steered toward that. The clients didn't know that Ms. Collins was also involved in Michael Charles Trust. What happened then, Ms. Collins used money from that particular trust to pay for personal expenses or transferred it to other accounts that she controlled," Boone said.

The indictment accuses Collins of using that money to pay for jewelry, a car and even a home.

Amanda Cram of Fresno had said Collins also scammed her. She spoke to Action News back in 2009. Cram said the second time she donated her eggs to the SurroGenesis operation she was hospitalized for six weeks.

Even though Cram's contract with the company said she wouldn't pay a single medical bill, she was stuck with $40,000 dollars in hospital charges.

"After that, the next time I tried to get ahold of SurroGenesis," Cram said in 2009. "None of their numbers connected to anything anymore."

When Action News went to Modesto in 2009 Collins had already closed her business office.

Friday, Boone told Action News even after that Collins still solicited money from people just hoping to have a child.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI have been following the money trail for years building their case.

If convicted of these charges Collins could serve up to 60 years in federal prison and be forced to pay nearly two million dollars in fines.

Collins will appear in Federal court on May 7th.

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