Man fakes cancer, uses donations to buy video games, marijuana
A Minnesota man was arrested after authorities say he faked having terminal cancer in order to trick people into giving him money, which he then spent on video games and marijuana.
The Faribault Police Department was tipped off to Jeremiah Jon Smith’s alleged scheme in May 2016, KTTC reports.
An investigation revealed that the 37-year-old had told people that he was battling stage-four cancer and was given 18 to 25 months to live. He later claimed he had six months to live, but it was all a lie.
According to a criminal complaint, Smith quit his job shortly after revealing his “diagnosis.”
A GoFundMe page was also sent up to help him. Authorities said it raised more than $6,800.
In February 2016, his community held two events raising more than $15,000.
Investigators reportedly said Smith spent all the money from the fundraisers. Some of the money went towards paying off $4,000 in outstanding bills and the rest was spent on alcohol, marijuana, dart tournaments and the mobile video game Clash of Clans.
“It is surprising. I guess you don’t expect to see people pretend to have a disease to try and make money off of it,” Rice County attorney Jon Fossum told WCCO.
Detectives said Smith’s wife became suspicious her husband was lying when she couldn’t find his medical records or bills for treatment. Police said every time Smith had a doctor’s appointment he refused to let his wife go.
Investigators said the first time they met with Smith, he told them that he would turn over his medical records. He never did.
When investigators met with him a second time he continued to try and sell his story, telling detectives that the cancer had spread from his colon to his kidneys and bladder.
Police obtained a search warrant for his medical records, which revealed he was not sick. Authorities also spoke with Smith’s doctor who denied diagnosing the man with cancer.
Smith is facing a felony charge of theft by swindle. He’s scheduled to appear in court next month and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
GoFundMe said in a statement to WCCO that a refund will be issued to all donors upon request.