TikToker arrested for scamming over 400 people out of $37,000 after lying about cancer diagnosis
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Featured Image Credit: Madison Russo/GoFundMe
A TikToker has been arrested after being accused of falsely claiming to be suffering from cancer to scam people out of money.
Madison Russo, 19, raised $37,000 with a fake cancer diagnosis through GoFundMe after claiming to have a tumour 'the size of a football'.
According to police, she pretended to have 'stage 2 pancreatic cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and a tumour the size of a football that wrapped around her spine'.
The TikToker was arrested on 23 January and is charged with first-degree theft - which is punishable in her home state of Iowa with up to 10 years behind bars.
Officials said that 439 unsuspecting Good Samaritans were conned out of a total sum of $37,303.
Madison added weight to her lies by taking photographs shared by other cancer patients on social media and passing them off as her own.
The alarm was only raised that Madison's cancer battle was not what it appeared to be when medical professionals noticed 'life-threatening inaccuracies' in the way that medical equipment was being used in her photographs on 11 January.
According to court records, this resulted in a raid of her apartment that saw police recover a number of items of medical paraphernalia including an IV pump attached to a bag filled with cotton balls as well as medical supplies that were registered in a relative's name.
GoFundMe said that they have 'a zero-tolerance policy of misuse of our platform and cooperate with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing' in a statement about the incident to McClatchy News.
The platform has promised to reimburse the money which was donated to the page under false pretences.
As well as refunding the donors, GoFundMe said the 19-year-old has been planned from the platform.
Madison, who was a student, told the North Scott Press in October of last year that she was diagnosed with cancer in February.
"I remember hanging up the phone, and I was a mess," she said.
"I was literally bawling, but somehow I ended up getting the courage to wipe away my tears and went back into class, which now, when I think about it, was pretty crazy."
She claimed she was given an 11 percent chance of surviving the next five years - and this was before she said she had an inoperable tumour on her spine.
Madison was released from Scott County Jail after posting a $10,000 bond and is due to appear in court next month.
UNILAD has reached out to GoFundMe and Madison Russo for a comment.