A 35 year old woman, named Francesca Zorzo, has been accused of paying €20,000 (£16,800, $21,800) for a surrogate baby girl.
Zorzo has been arrested along with the Romanian surrogate mother, Nicoleta Tanase, 25, and a Morrocan man, Barrazzuk Yousef, 48, who organised the deal.
Surrogacy is illegal in Italy and can lead to heavy fines and prison time, an Italian politician has even likened it to a ‘sex crime’.
Police have been told that Zorzo deceived friends and family into thinking that she was pregnant by wearing a fake latex pregnancy belly. She had previously suffered from miscarriages and has a partner who was in prison.
On discovering that the baby was mixed, Italian reports say that she returned the baby three days later, as she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to explain the baby’s skin tone to her family and friends.
The biological father of the baby was from Mali, however Yousef posed as the father, raising suspicions at the Rome hospital.
The alarm was raised when a woman asked at a registry office how to register a baby that was born at home. Officials contacted her when she didn’t come back to register the child, but were given lots of excuses.
Investigators eventually found the one-month-old baby girl healthy and with her biological father in Rome, she has now been placed into foster care.