Robin Folsom's colleagues became suspicious when they noticed her "bump" was askew and she sent them inconsistent photos of her fake children.
Sometimes, people lie and say they’re sick to skip work. But a Georgia woman named Robin Folsom went one big step further when she faked a pregnancy in order to get seven weeks of paid time off. And it wasn’t even the first time she had lied about giving birth. Now, she’s facing three counts of making false statements and one count of identity fraud.
“When [Folsom’s employer] first sent us this case, we thought there had to be a misunderstanding. We couldn’t believe it,” said State Inspector General Scott McAfee.
According to a news release sent out by the Georgia Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Folsom, 43, told elaborate lies about her “pregnancy” while working as the director of external affairs at the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA). She informed the agency about her pregnancy in late 2020 and claimed to give birth in May 2021.
But Folsom’s colleagues quickly grew suspicious. Though Folsom had a “baby bump,” one of her colleagues noticed that something wasn’t quite right about it.
“[I]n March 2021, a co-worker observed the lower portion of Folsom’s stomach ‘come away’ from her body and believed Folsom wore a fake pregnant stomach,” the news release explained.
“In addition, Folsom allegedly sent pictures of her new baby to various GVRA employees, however, the pictures appeared to be inconsistent and depicted children with varying skin tones.”
Indeed, McAfee credits Folsom’s colleagues for identifying her fraud. “The GVRA employees, the human resources, just started putting two and two together,” he said. “Things weren’t adding up, and thankfully they didn’t shrug it off. They realized that this was something that was more serious.”
Folsom appeared to be primarily motivated by paid time off. After she “gave birth” on May 1, 2021, a man named Bran Otmembebwe emailed leaders at her agency. Claiming to be the father of Folsom’s newborn baby, he said that Folsom’s doctor had “mandated several weeks of rest following the delivery.”
As a result, Folsom’s superiors gave her seven weeks of paid leave “that it otherwise would not have approved.” (Until that May, government employees in Georgia could take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. A bill signed on May 5 granted them three weeks of paid paternal leave.)
But Bran Otmembebwe was merely a product of Folsom’s imagination.
“We ultimately didn’t find any evidence that he existed,” said McAfee. “That’s why she’s also been charged with identity fraud.”
This is not the first time Folsom has faked a pregnancy, though it is unclear what time off, if any, she received in the past. She had claimed to give birth in July 2020, as well. And in August 2021, just three months after the “birth” in question, she informed her employers that she was pregnant once again.
When the OIG checked in with the Office of Vital Records to review the birth certificates of Folsom’s “children,” they found “no indication that Folsom had ever delivered a child.”
After lying to investigators about Otmembebwe and the existence of her children, Folsom resigned from her position in October 2021. She’s now facing criminal charges and was indicted by a grand jury on Feb. 10, 2022.
“Fraud by state employees will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Chris Carr following Folsom’s indictment.
“By working with Georgia’s independent Inspector General, we were able to discover, investigate and put an end to this alleged deception. We will always stand up to protect taxpayer dollars, and we look forward to presenting our case in court.”
McAfee seconded Carr, saying, “All state employees, and especially those that communicate with the media and general public on behalf on their agency, should be held to the highest standards of integrity and honesty.”
“OIG will continue to hold state employees accountable if they choose to deceive their superiors and receive undeserved compensation.”
For now, the consequences of Robin Folsom’s faked pregnancies are up in the air. She will return to court on April 4, where, if found guilty, she could spend up to 25 years in prison and pay up to $103,000 in fines.