A 19-year-old woman from the American state of Iowa raised almost 37,000 dollars by pretending to have cancer on TikTok. Until someone with medical knowledge informed the police that her story did not match the conditions she spoke about.
She was arrested, and all donors got their money back.
Leukaemia, pancreatic cancer and a tumour “the size of a foot drop around her spine”. Those are the conditions 19-year-old Madison Russo suffered from. Or so she told her followers. The young woman shared her agony on TikTok, among other things, to draw more attention to her battle with cancer. She also started a fundraiser on GoFundMe and convinced 439 donors to give her about $ 37,000 (nearly $ 35,000) for her treatments.
But the whole story turned out to be fabricated. Someone with medical knowledge had seen the woman’s videos and noticed some discrepancies. The story that the woman did on TikTok did not match her alleged ailments. And so the police were informed. They revealed that Russo “has never been diagnosed with cancer by any medical facility in the Quad Cities or surrounding cities,” police said in a statement. The woman was arrested on January 23 on suspicion of theft by deception.
GoFundMe suspended its fundraiser and refunded all donors. But police are currently trying to identify other possible victims of the woman. She would have been active on GoFundMe and accepted donations from companies, non-profit organizations, school districts and individuals,” police said.