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01st Feb 2023

Woman arrested after allegedly lying about cancer to raise $37,000

Ellen Fitzpatrick

She has been arrested.

A woman in the US has allegedly faked her cancer diagnosis in a bid to raise over $37,000 in donations on GoFundMe, police said.

19 year old Madison Russo from Eldridge, Iowa has been arrested and charged with felony theft after she raised thousands of dollars in order to pay for treatment for a fraudulent cancer diagnosis.

Police were first alerted to the crime when medical professionals reported discrepancies in her story.

According to a story published in a local paper, the North Scott Press, Russo was “diagnosed” late in 2021 with stage 2 pancreatic cancer. Russo has also claimed her diagnosis had an 11% survival rate.

In the months that followed, Madison claimed she had been diagnosed with leukemia after the cancer moved to her blood and once the original story had been published, Madison claimed she had learned she now had a “football-sized” tumour on her spine.

The North Scott Press has now published a follow up story about her arrests and the allegations of fraud.

During this time, Madison was also documenting the journey on LinkedIn and TikTok. It wasn’t long before her followers began picking up on inaccuracies and discrepancies.

Madison was arrested on January 23 and booked at Scott County Jail. According to court records, she was held on a $10,000 bond.

Investigators have also seized a number of items from her apartments which included nausea pills prescribed to a family member and an IV pole and feeding bag filled with cotton balls.

The GoFundMe page for Russo’s medical expenses that was set up gained a total of $37,803 in donations, and donors are being offered refunds from the site.

“GoFundMe has a zero tolerance policy for misuse of our platform,” the site stated.