Florida woman charged with fraud after allegedly faking cancer
A Florida woman who allegedly lied about suffering from breast cancer and collected donations from supporters now faces felony charges of organized fraud.
When many Tampa residents think of fraud, they may imagine misrepresentations made to strangers or business entities for financial gain. However, fraud can take various forms, including the deception of personal friends and acquaintances. This was illustrated recently when a Florida woman was charged with fraud after allegedly pretending to suffer from cancer.
Allegations of a false illness
Fox News reports that the woman is accused of collecting over $4,000 in donations after misrepresenting her health. Most of the donations came from friends and family members who were told that the woman had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Some donations also came from strangers who contributed money during a fundraising event.
Authorities began investigating this case after receiving a tip that the illness might not be legitimate. Detectives allegedly found that the woman had never taken other people to her doctor’s appointments. The woman produced records that documented her medical visits and named her treating physicians. However, authorities reportedly failed to find corroborating records at the medical center that the woman identified, so they pressed charges.
Serious fraud sanctions
The woman has not been accused of engaging in insurance, healthcare or workers’ compensation fraud. The acceptance of donations from other people was her only alleged offense. However, under Florida law, all white collar charges involving fraud constitute at least a third-degree felony. Depending on the amount of money involved, fraud may also be charged as a second- or first-degree felony.
In this case, the woman was charged with a third-degree felony. Still, she could face significant sanctions if she is convicted. In Florida, a third-degree felony conviction can result in up to three years in prison and fines up to $5,000. People who are designated habitual felony offenders based on past felony convictions may face even steeper sanctions. These people may be penalized with incarceration lasting between five and ten years.
Addressing fraud allegations
In cases like this one, certain criteria must be met before a person can be found guilty of fraud. The following facts would generally need to be established:
- The accused person presented false information and did so knowingly.
- The accused person shared this information with the intention of deceiving others.
- The misrepresentation was reasonable for other people to believe.
- The misrepresentation directly resulted in other people suffering economic or other damages.
People facing fraud charges may be able to challenge the charges if all of these conditions are not met.
Considering the serious potential consequences of a fraud conviction, anyone charged with this offense should consider consulting with an attorney. A defense attorney may be able to offer advice on challenging the charges or minimizing the long-term consequences of a conviction.
Keywords: fraud, felony, charges