A woman from Pennsylvania, United States has been charged with faking cancer to scam a lot of people out of for a treatment that does not even exist.
The 31-year-old Jessica Smith is accused of the scam and falsifying medical documents, according to authorities. Smith is said to have created two online fundraises in June 2020 on GoFundMe and Facebook.
Smith called for donations to help with her alleged medical bills, after Smith claimed that she was diagnosed with colon cancer, according to the criminal complaint that was filed last week.
Smith's GoFundMe page read that she is facing tremendous medical bills, paying for the care for her children, travel expenses and missed work.
According to ABC News, the campaign was later removed from GoFundMe and Jessica Smith was banned from the site. Her page raised up to £3,700 since it was created on June 10, 2020.
Meanwhile, the Facebook fundraiser raised up to £6,700. Smith is said to have collected more than £7,800 in donations from both campaigns. The authorities said she created the campaigns under her maiden name, Jessica Veronica Cornell.
The authorities were notified of her fundraisers after her husband, Robert Smith, and a friend reported the campaigns to the Uwchian Township Police Department on June 19.
Detective Sgt. Steven Benson wrote in her criminal complaint that to the best of her knowledge, Smith's friend does not believe that Smith has been diagnosed with cancer of any form, according to CBS News.
Mr. Smith then told the police that to the best of his knowledge, his wife does not have any form of cancer and that she is covered on his medical insurance through his employer. He also gave copies of bank statements from the couple's joint checking account which showed deposits coming into the account.
Smith was arrested and taken in by police on September 12 for questioning. The police asked her about her medical diagnosis and treatment for cancer. She also told officers that she was diagnosed with colon cancer in May and that she is undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Smith told the police that she had 16 inches of her colon removed and showed a non-descript document that indicated she underwent surgery.
Smith is charged with theft by deception and other theft-related counts and she is due to appear for a preliminary hearing on November 12.
The acting district attorney for Chester County, Mike Noone, told BBC that Smith took advantage of people's generosity and everyone's worse fear of a cancer diagnosis to get money for herself.
A spokesperson for GoFundMe said that in general, if someone fabricates a medical diagnosis or other circumstances in hopes of raising money, the fraudulent behavior will be reported and an action will be taken.
A spokesperson for Facebook said that based on the investigation they believe that the fundraiser violated their terms. The fundraiser is now removed and it is no longer visible to anyone on the site, including the one who created it.
The spokesperson also said that all donors will receive refunds and they will also receive a notification when the refund is already issued. They can check their payment history for confirmation of the refund.