An Australian woman has been arrested and charged for allegedly obtaining tens of thousands of dollars through a fraudulent crowdfunding campaign after claiming she was battling cancer.
Lucy Wieland allegedly raised A$55,000 ($39,00) through a GoFundMe campaign she claimed was meant to treat ovarian cancer, the BBC reports. A public tip-off alerted police to the case.
Wieland reportedly used social media to document her fraudulent illness, posting images to her Instagram account that appeared to show her wearing an oxygen mask, receiving intravenous medication and losing her hair.
It is unclear whether Wieland’s partner, who appears in some of the photos posted online, was complicit in the fraud. The Instagram account appears to have since been suspended.
Queensland police detective inspector Chris Lawson called the case “disheartening,” Australia’s ABC News reports.
“The real victims here are the people from the community that have heard the stories, have tried to assist as best they can…in the honest belief they are trying to help people,” he told reporters outside a Queensland courthouse on Thursday.
Wieland, 27, did not have a previous criminal history and was granted bail. She is due to return to court in December.
GoFundMe said in a statement that Wieland’s campaign had been banned and money donated to it would be refunded, according to the BBC.
But Lawson also urged social media users to “do a bit of due diligence and check” before donating to online crowdfunding campaigns to avoid being caught in a scam.
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