A Missouri couple, Sarah and Kris Everson, have been charged with staging an elaborate hoax to fool people into believing they had sextuplets
. Supposedly Sarah gave birth to the six babies on March 8. Stories about the multiple birth ran in local papers, and people who heard about the family's tight financial situation began to organize donations for them. Sarah also supplied the Associated Press with a photograph of herself looking very pregnant, as well as sonograms of the kids. The babies themselves were supposedly still in intensive care. But the authorities became suspicious when all the hospitals in the area stated that they had no clue who these people, or their babies, were. Turns out there were no babies. Just a bizarre scheme to con people into giving them money.
I write about birth hoaxes in Hippo Eats Dwarf
, where I note that they're more common than you would think (Reality Rule 1.1: Just because a woman looks pregnant, it doesn't mean she is
). Nowadays the most common birth scam is for a woman to pretend to be pregnant and then con a couple who want to adopt her child into supporting her until the baby is delivered. She lives in high style for a few months and then skips town. Multiple-birth hoaxes, such as the Missouri case, are quite rare, though as I note in the Gallery of Birth Hoaxes
, there were a number of them from the 1930s to the 1950s, following the 1934 birth of the Dionne Quintuplets. But multiple-birth hoaxes began to go out of style once fertility drugs made multiple births more common. The phenomenon lost its novelty.
What surprises me about the Missouri case is that the couple must have known they couldn't keep the hoax going without, at some point, producing six babies. So what exactly was their plan? Obviously these weren't the most brilliant criminals in the world.