Imagine orchestrating fundraisers, making bracelets, and dying your hair pink all to help support a local woman in need who is battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma… or so they thought.
As I watched the news this past weekend, I was stunned to learn that a local women pocketed money after she falsely claimed that she had cancer. I was outraged, thinking, “How could someone do such a thing?” Well, apparently she’s not the only one.
After reading this women’s story online, I came across many others who have allegedly faked cancer as well. From a woman lying about a breast cancer diagnosis in order to raise enough money for breast implants to a woman faking a leukemia diagnosis in order to scam local businesses into giving her a dream wedding. The sickness doesn’t stop with women; men are doing this as well. One man went so far as to say he had terminal pancreatic cancer and was able to scam thousands of dollars from friends and family in order to raise enough money to fulfill his “bucket list.”
So why are people committing cancer fraud? Well, my initial response may not be suitable to say on TheONC, but my next thought would be “sickness” -- and it doesn’t involve cancer either. Some of these people are simply just scam artists and will stop at nothing to make a buck. Others may suffer from a mental illness and actually believe they have cancer. Unfortunately, “healthy” individuals are not the only one’s scheming; cancer patients are doing this as well, even those who have undergone successful treatment. Some may have become accustomed to the financial support and sympathy that they received during their treatment so they lie about their prognosis to remain in the sympathy spotlight.
Many of us may want to go above and beyond our duties as a cancer professional and help those in need through charity, but how can we avoid being duped by these cancer fraud thieves? Here a few tips:
- Donate directly to organizations such as the American Cancer Society.
- Donate funds directly into a third-party bank account set up for the person affected by cancer.
- Provide support by offering to drive them to clinic appointments or even making trips to the grocery store for them.
- If you discover that you have been a victim of cancer fraud, contact your local authority; more than likely, criminal charges will be filed.
The point of this blog is not to deter you from providing support for those cancer patients in need; it is an attempt to make you aware that there are some scheming characters out there who will go to great lengths to get rich or to gain unwarranted sympathy for their bogus cancer diagnoses.
And as for the woman who scammed local residents out of thousands of dollars and inspired them to dye their hair pink -- the awareness color for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is lime green, not pink, but who knows? Maybe there is a breast cancer diagnosis to follow.