A couple who agreed to adopt a baby were devastated after learning that the mother was never pregnant in the first place

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  • Matt and Laura Trayte, from Lake Forest, California, advertised on Facebook that they were looking for a baby to adopt after they struggled to conceive.
  • They met met Beth Jones, of Nickelsville, Virginia, after a months-long attempt at adoption that cost them $16,000.
  • Jones said she lost the baby early on but didn’t want to tell the Traytes, then later said the baby was still alive, despite providing no proof of a birth certificate.
  • The Traytes now believe there was no baby to begin with.

A couple in California say they’re victims of an “emotional crime” after their adoption process turned out to be a hoax allegedly made up by the woman who told them they could have her baby.

Matt and Laura Trayte, from Lake Forest, California, met Beth Jones, of Nickelsville, Virginia, on Facebook after a months-long attempt at adopting a child, according to the Orange County Register.

Over the course of more than two months, Jones led the couple to believe she was having a baby – but now the Traytes say there was no baby to begin with.

The Traytes struggled to conceive

The couple had struggled to conceive their first son, Hudson, and later had difficulties when trying to have a second child.

The Traytes went though multiple rounds of IVF and spent $16,000 on failed adoption services before launching the Facebook page, “A Sibling For Hudson,” and an accompanying GoFundMe.

Through the Facebook page they met several potential birth mothers who wanted to give up their babies, including Jones, who contacted the couple in September.

Jones told the Traytes she had gotten pregnant in April and that she and her husband wanted to give up the baby because they couldn’t afford a third child.

She didn’t want any money, and the Traytes and Jones decided they would have an open adoption, where Jones would still be in the baby’s life.

Jones and Laura Trayte exchanged messages several times a day between September 13 and November 29, with the women calling the unborn child “baby girl,” and exchanging thoughts about pregnancy.

Read more: 10 things to know about IVF, a popular fertility treatment

Ahead of the baby’s birth, Laura Trayte traveled to Virginia to meet Jones, and was sent numerous ultrasound photos.

When Jones finally told the couple she was going into labor, however, the Traytes learned there was no baby.

They arrived in the emergency room on November 29 to find Jones fully clothed, no baby in sight, and doctors saying the woman was being treated for back pain, and not in labor.

Jones later told the couple via texts that she had “lost the baby about two weeks ago” but didn’t want to tell the Traytes because she was “scared.”

Jones has given conflicting explanations for what’s happened

After telling the Traytes that she’d lost the baby two weeks prior, Jones later posted on Facebook that she’d actually lost the baby 13 weeks after conception.

She then told investigators that she lost the baby in June.

Then Jones told Southern Californian News Group that the baby was still alive, and that she would still consider letting the Traytes adopt the child.

“I wouldn’t say I have really changed my mind on them,” Jones wrote in a Facebook message to the media company. “I just have to know without a doubt what’s best. I’m not even sure what’s best.”

She has yet to produce birth or death certificates for the child, and the Traytes believe that there was no baby to begin with.

“What was her motive?” Laura said to the Orange County Register. “It wasn’t money. It seemed like she wanted to see us in the most emotional pain possible. She should get mental help. What else is she capable of?”

Her husband added: “This is a case of pure psychological torture. It is an emotional crime.”

The district attorney’s office in Scott County, Virginia, has yet to bring charges against Jones, and investigators said it would only be possible to bring a civil suit against her because no money was exchanged.

Jones’ motive remains unclear – but it’s not the first time such a thing has happened.

In 2015, a woman was arrested for deceiving a couple with a fake pregnancy in Texas. And earlier this year, a woman was arrested for allegedly faking pregnancy to scam thousands of dollars out of adoption agencies.