Pennsylvania woman who faked cancer, raised more than $10K charged with theft, authorities say

A Pennsylvania woman has been charged with theft after allegedly faking a cancer diagnosis and fundraising more than $10,000 through GoFundMe and Facebook, according to a complaint obtained by The Hill.

Jessica Smith, 32, of Chester County, Pa. claimed she was diagnosed with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer and required funds to pay for medical, travel and child care costs, according to the complaint.


Smith’s friend reported to the Uwchlan Township Police Department in June that she did not think Smith had cancer, officials said, prompting the department to launch an investigation.

Smith’s husband talked to police a month after that, showing that his wife was covered under his medical insurance and hadn’t met her $1,250 deductible, according to the complaint. 

The woman said she was receiving chemotherapy at Penn Medicine, which could not find any record of her diagnosis or treatment, the complaint said. The money reportedly went into a joint bank account with her husband.

“She took advantage of other people’s generosity by lying about having cancer,” Michael Noone, Chester County’s first assistant attorney, told KYW-TV in Philadelphia.

GoFundMe said in a statement to The Hill that abuse of its website in this way is rare.

"In this case, the campaign was reported to our team and we are working with local law enforcement to assist in the investigation," GoFundMe spokeswoman Meghan Scripture said. "All donations will be refunded to the donors in full and the user has been banned from the platform."

Smith was arraigned Monday and is expected to return to court next week, according to a press release from the police department.

Smith’s lawyer Michael DiCindio declined to comment.

– This report was updated at 3:41 p.m.