Madison Russo’s suspicious claims about being sick came to light when medical professionals caught inconsistencies in her story online.
An Iowa woman who falsely claimed to have cancer and documented her “battle” on social media will stay out of prison after a judge gave her probation and a suspended sentence.
Madison Russo, 20, never had pancreatic cancer, leukemia or a football-sized tumor wrapped around her spine, as she claims in posts on TikTok, GoFundMe, Facebook and LinkedIn.
But over 400 people sent her donations.
As part of the 10-year suspended sentence handed down Friday, she was ordered to pay $39,000 in restitution and a $1,370 fine.
If he stays out of trouble for three years of probation, he will remain free.
The Bettendorf woman pleaded guilty in June to first-degree theft.
In court Friday, Judge John Thelein denied a defense motion that would have expunged the conviction from her record if she successfully completes probation.
He said people dealing with her in the future should know that she was once involved in a “criminal scheme” and that “serious crimes should have serious consequences”.
“Through this scheme you defrauded your friends, family, community, other cancer victims, charities and strangers who were motivated by your allegedly tragic story to donate to help support you,” the judge said.
Russo told the court she made up her story because she hoped her fake battle with cancer would force her troubled family to focus on her.
“A lot of people have speculated as to why I did this and how someone who seemed to have it all together could have such a mess,” she said. “I didn’t do this for money or greed. I didn’t do this for attention. I did this as an attempt to bring my family back together.”
Her sentence also includes 100 hours of community service.