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TikToker under fire for lying about cancer diagnosis to scam 400 people

TikToker under fire for lying about cancer diagnosis to scam 400 people

Madison “Maddie” Russo has pleaded guilty to first-degree theft after raising $37,000 by faking cancer.

A 20-year-old TikTok user from Bettendorf, Iowa, has pleaded guilty to first-degree theft after she faked having cancer to raise money from well-wishers online.

As UNILAD reports, Madison “Maddie” Russo had faked Stage 2 pancreatic cancer and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia - she also claimed to have a “tumour the size of a football” wrapped around her spine. She alleged that she’d been given an 11% survival rate over five years even before doctors found the tumour, but a review of her medical records proved that she'd never been diagnosed with any tumours or cancer at any of the medical facilities where she claimed to live.

Russo ‘documented’ her fake illness on TikTok and GoFundMe - using the latter, she raised around $37,000 (roughly £29,000) from 439 donations, some of which were from school districts and cancer charities. GoFundMe has now reimbursed everyone who was scammed, and Russo has been banned from the platform.

The scammer’s GoFundMe page previously stated: “Just like with any cancer diagnosis, the cost of medical bills, gas, meals, and expense can be a burden, and that is something this family should not have to worry about. If you are able to, donations would be greatly appreciated to help cover medical expenses and to allow Maddie to focus on one thing only, which is to show that she is stronger than cancer and will beat this. Please donate/share if you can.”

She was arrested in January after witnesses (who claim to be medics) reported her to the police, after they discovered “many medical discrepancies”. UNILAD reports that witnesses mentioned “terrible life-threatening inaccuracies of her medical equipment placement on her body” in their statements, and according to court filings, she stole photos from real cancer patients in order to share them online and give her story more validity.

After pleading guilty on 14 June, Russo faces up to 10 years in jail - her sentencing will take place at a later date.

Featured Image Credit: Madison Russo via GoFundMe, Eyestetix Studio

Topics: TikTok, Real Life