Dateline   |  May 17, 2013

'Wild, Wild Web', Part 3

Chris Hansen meets a woman who listed her own baby for adoption online -- but she's not what she seems. 

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> here's a wild, wild web listing that caught our eye. a woman offering her baby for adoption. i know this is crazy to do on craigslist, she wrote. i'm 20 weeks pregnant and looking for a couple to adopt my unborn child . nicole perkins responded to that ad.

>> it would have been nothing short of a miracle for us.

>> she and her husband had been looking to adopt for four years and knew someone else who found a baby on craigslist. so she thought she'd give it a try.

>> thought well, if it can happen for one person, it might could happen for us.

>> nicole said the woman replied saying her name ws beth . after a few days of chatting, beth texted nicole saying i feel like i've met my family.

>> but when beth sent nicole these ultrasound pictures, nicole got suspicious.

>> the person who was pregnant generally their name is on the ultrasound somewhere. the photos were blurry.

>> when nicole began to probe, she stopped responding.

>> it causes a lot of heartache and a lot of confusion.

>> turns out, we had also responded to the adoption post and were about to learn more about the woman offering a baby on craigslist.

>> how are you feeling?

>> tired.

>> she agrees to meet with two of our producers posing as potential adoptive parents in charleston, south carolina . i watch from a few feet away while our hidden cameras recorded it all.

>> i'm sorry. i'm nervous.

>> why are you nervous?

>> i don't know.

>> she says her name is beth dennis .

>> your name is beth dennis .

>> she says this is her first pregnancy. that she's never been married.

>> you've never been pregnant. you don't know what to expect? never been married?

>> no. i was engaged but --

>> as for any criminal background.

>> you ever been in trouble with the law.

>> here and there.

>> beth says she wants nothing in return for giving up her baby. but she does ask for some cash.

>> just a couple hundred dollars.

>> she says it's to cover moving expenses.

>> with food and gas, that would be great.

>> there's something wrong with this negotiation to adopt a baby. because in south carolina , all adoptions must be handled by an attorney and approved by a court. but beth suggests a way around the law. by making this look like it isn't really an adoption.

>> you wouldn't need an attorney or anything like that?

>> no.

>> she suggests our producers should claim on a birth certificate that he's the biological father .

>> do i go in as your husband, is that what we do?

>> you go in as the father of the baby.

>> i go to the hospital and i take the baby home.

>> for all they know, it could be a one nightstand.

>> if we did that, it would be illegal. now it's time for me to ask beth a few questions.

>> how are you?

>> she thinks i'm a family friend who happens to live in the area.

>> what a day, man. i'm also a friend who is skeptical about the online listing we answered.

>> who puts a baby up on craig list ?

>> there's a lot of people.

>> yeah.

>> we're here to talk more than just adoption because we know a lot more about beth than she thinks. for example, her name is not really beth dennis . she has been married. and in fact, she has at least three children.

>> i've done some research, beth . and i know that your real name is beth guyton martinelli.

>> no.

>> that you've been married.

>> no.

>> that you did time in jail.

>> no.

>> that you already put up a child for adoption while you were in jail.

>> no.

>> despite the denials, we know the woman sitting across from us really is bethany guyton martinelli. a 37-year-old woman with a lengthy rap sheet ranging from writing bad checks to ripping people off at a car dealership. she's also wanted in two states for probation violations and failure to show up in court. and while we were talking to her she was also under suspicion for operating a rental scam. just like the adoption listing, the rental scam began on craigslist.

>> you're accused of running a rental home scam.

>> no.

>> took money from some five people.

>> no.

>> but that's not what this woman says.

>> i was looking for a bigger place for me and my daughter.

>> yvonne cusack was surfing the web when she saw beth 's listing for this home.

>> was it nice?

>> yes, it was very nice.

>> yvonne, a single mother was convinced and gave a woman named beth russell $1,000 for a downpayment. she never got to move in because she disappeared with the money.

>> that was pretty much our entire savings. it may not be much to people but it was a lot to me and my daughter.

>> there were at least four other people with similar complaints about beth . over lunch, beth denied it all.

>> i have to tell you, you're sounding like a pathological liar .

>> no, that's not me. i think i'm going to leave.

>> no, no, no. you need to clarify some of this stuff.

>> beth took off quickly with a lot of unanswered questions. like whatever happened to those complaints about running that rental scam?

>> we want to put her in handcuffs and we want to put her in front of a judge.

>> those complaints landed on the desk of lieutenant tony finney of the south carolina sheriff's office. just two weeks ago he put beth 's face on a digital billboard in hopes of finding her. the next day beth martinelli was arrested and charged with taking that rental money under false pretenses.

>> beth guyton martinelli.

>> she has yet to enter