Couple charged in adoption agency fraud probe

QMI Agency

First posted:


TORONTO -- A couple has been charged with fraud after police say they allegedly used funds from their not-for-profit adoption agency for vacations, clothing and home renovations.

Rick, 46, and Susan Hayhow, 45, were arrested Thursday after a lengthy investigation into Imagine Adoption Inc., Waterloo Regional Police said.

A probe into the Cambridge-based agency, about 100 km west of Toronto, was launched in July 2009 after police received complaints from public and two board of directors members. The company filed for bankruptcy the same month.

Parents were left in limbo as adoption applications for children from Ethiopia were suddenly up in the air. An estimated 400 families were affected and about 170 of them had invested up to $20,000 to secure an adoption.

"Investigators interviewed numerous agency clients and examined a large volume of documents relating to financial transactions conducted by the accused persons," police said in a release.

"The charges relate to just over $420,000 of agency funds that are alleged to have been used inappropriately for personal use such as vacations, clothing, and renovations to their residence in Cambridge," a statement said.

Rick Hayhow, served as the agency's general manager, while Susan Hayhow was the founder and executive director.

Both are charged with breach of trust, six counts of fraud over $5,000, and three counts of fraud under $5,000. They have also been charged separately with one count of fraud over $5,000.

The Hayhows were released from custody, and are scheduled to appear in Cambridge court May 26.