New Mexico Hounded Father for Support for Non-Existent Child

In December, Wendy McElroy wrote about one of the strangest cases of child support gone awry in a case where a man was hounded by the state of New Mexico to support a child that didn’t actually exist.

Viola Trevino essentially invented a child that did not exist and claimed that Steve Barras was the father. Barreras denied being the father, but ended up paying $20,000 in child support before the fraud was exposed.

Trevino went to extreme lengths to pull off her fraud. She filed a false paternity test using a DNA sample from an adult daughter of Berreras, and enlisted a friend of hers who worked at a lab to process it. Based on the results of the fraudulent paternity test she obtained a court order for child support.

Trevino went on to obtain a Social Security card, Medicare card and a birth certificate for the invented child.

Barreras repeatedly told New Mexico’s child services that he couldn’t possibly be the father of Trevino’s child because he had a vasectomy years prior to the child’s birth and tests showed a zero sperm count. New Mexico authorities basically ignored him when he tried to tell them that the child did nto exist, with one worker telling him, “your daughter does exist, as I am sure you already knew.”

Only after Barreras hired a private investigator and New Mexico TV station KOBTV did a report on Trevino’s case was Trevino finally ordered to produce her now allegedly 5-year-old daughter in court.

On the day of that hearing, Trevino snatched a 2-year-old girl from her grandmother and tried to pass the girl off in court as her daughter.

McElroy reports that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has asked the state’s Human Services Department for an investigation and report on how this fraud was allowed to go on for so long.

Obviously Barreras case is an extreme example, but that fact that Trevino could pull of this sort of fraud for 5 years whille Trevino’s pleas that he couldn’t possibly be the father are indicative of just how broken the system is.


Agency culpable in child support scam. Wendy McElroy, Fox News, December 14, 2004.

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