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Mother of Internet twins faces fraud charges

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) -- The mother of twin girls whose adoption over the Internet sparked a trans-Atlantic custody battle was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on charges of government program fraud.

The charges appear to be unrelated to the adoption controversy.

Tranda Wecker, 29, of O'Fallon, Missouri, was indicted on nine felony counts of making false statements to obtain government benefits and one felony count of mail fraud, according to a press release from Raymond Gruender, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Missouri.

Wecker is expected to turn herself in to authorities this week. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000 on each count.

According to the press release from the U.S. attorney, Wecker applied for unemployment compensation in 1999 and 2000 from the state of Missouri when she was employed. The amount of aid she allegedly received was $2,085 in 1999 and $1,227 in 2000. The indictment also alleges that she made false applications for food stamps and other aid.

Wecker's 14-month-old twin girls -- who are now in U.S. foster care -- have been at the center of an international custody battle since two sets of parents, one British couple and one California couple, tried to adopt them from a Web site called the Caring Heart Adoption.






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