Authorities say a 19-year-old woman scammed more than 400 donors and accumulated over $37,000 by falsely claiming she had cancer.
Madison Russo was charged with theft on January 23, according to the Eldridge Police Department in Eldridge, Iowa. According to a press release, Russo allegedly made false claims on social media, including that “she suffered acute lymphoblastic leukemia, stage 2 pancreatic cancer and a tumor the size of a football.”
A GoFundMe page was allegedly established on behalf of Russo and was highlighted in a local newspaper. She was also a guest speaker at St. Ambrose University, the National Pancreas Foundation in Chicago and on a podcast for Project Purple, the press release said.
In an investigation, subpoenas for medical records from medical facilities in the area were obtained and confirmed Russo had never been diagnosed with any kind of cancer or tumor.
Authorities confirmed to Good Morning America that they are using Russo’s social media as evidence in her case, but will not confirm which social media.
GoFundMe told ABC News it is cooperating with the investigation and has refunded the donations, in addition to shuttering the fundraiser.
Louis Frillman, one of the many donors who gave money to Russo’s fundraiser, told ABC affiliate WQAD, “My thinking is, say a prayer for this young kid, because she is going to have a lot of terrible consequences as a result of this.”
Russo and her family have not responded to multiple requests for comment by ABC News. Following her arrest, Russo posted $10,000 bond. She is due in court next month.