A Minnesota man is accused of faking cancer in order to collect thousands of dollars in donations that he allegedly spent on entertainment. The investigation into Smith's theft began in May 2016 after police were tipped off about Smith's fundraisers.
"It is surprising. I guess you don't expect to see people pretend to have a disease to try and make money off of it", Rice County Attorney John Fossum said.
Rice County prosecutors say Jeremiah Jon Smith told people he had stage 4 cancer, and collected almost $7,000 from a "GoFundMe" account based on the fraudulent claim.
Besides the GoFundMe account, two benefits were held for the defendant which raised a total of more than $15,000.
"I'm fairly confident that Mr. Smith was the only one that was aware that he wasn't sick when they were planning these fundraisers. He was acting like a con man", Fossum said.
Smith's wife told authorities that she never saw any bill or other medical record of him having cancer.
When investigators asked for his medical records he promised to turn them over, but never did. "And started asking more questions", WCCO reported.
A few months later, detectives obtained a search warrant giving them access to Smith's medical records, which showed no cancer diagnosis even though he maintained that he had terminal cancer.
So where did the money go?
Instead, police said Smith spent the benefactors' cash to buy marijuana, pay off credit cards and play video games such as "Clash of Clans".
'People contributed over $20,000 to help pay for this, which again, he blew on things that he wanted to spend money on.
The Rice County attorney says Jeremiah Smith is charged with a felony, but because he has no criminal history, he will likely get probation, not prison time. He will face the charges in court in early November. It is important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds that funds from a campaign are misused, donors are fully protected and will get refunded.