US man charged for faking cancer to raise S$31,000; money was spent on playing video games

Jeremiah Smith, 37, lied about having terminal cancer and raised US$ 23,000 (S$31,131) from donors to play video games including Clash of Clans, buy marijuana and pay credit card bills. PHOTO: ST FILE

US police have charged a man with theft by swindle after he lied about having terminal cancer and collected about US$23,000 (S$31,131) from donors.

Jeremiah Smith, 37, was charged last week, after police received a tip-off about the man in May last year, reported local media.

According to investigators, Smith held a series of fundraisers that he claimed would help with his medical expenses, said CBS Minnesota.

Two separate fundraisers in Feburary last year raised US$9,000 and nearly $6,600, while a GoFundMe page collected $6,800, said Rice County attorney John Fossum.

But Smith could not show any medical records to prove his claims, and his wife grew suspicious, said Mr Fossum.

"She went looking for medical records and couldn't get them and couldn't find them anywhere. And started asking more questions," Mr Fossum told CBS Minnesota.

Despite being questioned by the police for the medical records, Smith never produced them, and eventually a search warrant was issued.

Police then spoke to the doctor and found out that Smith never had cancer, said Mr Fossum.

Instead, the money raised was used to play video games including Clash of Clans, buy marijuana and pay credit card bills, reported CBS Minnesota.

"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," said Mr Fossum.

In response to the incident, fundraiser page GoFundMe said campaigns with misuse comprise less than 0.1 per cent of all campaigns.

It added that it has banned Smith from the platform and will be refunding all donors "upon request".

"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," the statement to CBS Minnesota added.

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