An Italian woman is accused of faking a pregnancy and then giving back the baby she bought, after finding out the child was mixed race.
The 35-year-old is accused of paying 20,000 euros ($21,800; £16,800) for the baby girl.
She has been arrested along with the child’s biological mother and a Moroccan man who allegedly helped broker the deal.
Surrogacy is illegal in Italy, and attracts prison time and heavy fines.
The “fake” mother is said to have told police she wore a decoy latex belly bought online to trick her friends and family.
Italian press reports said her partner was in prison for drug trafficking, and that she had recently suffered two miscarriages.
The baby’s biological mother, a 25-year-old Romanian woman, reportedly fell pregnant after a short relationship with a man from Mali.
When she learned about the baby’s race, the Italian woman is said to have realised she would not be able to explain the child’s skin colour. After just three days, reports say, she gave the baby back.
Suspicions were first raised in February at the registry office in the city of Latina, south of Rome, when a woman asked how to register a baby that had been born at home.
When nobody returned to register the child, officials got in touch – but are said to have received evasive answers. Fearing something was amiss, they flagged the case up to police.
Investigators found the baby girl in a healthy state with her biological father, who works in Rome.
She is now just over a month old, and has been placed in foster care.