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San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking cancer to steal $106K in donations

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Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking cancer in wire fraud scheme
Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer to steal $106K in donations over seven years.
Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking cancer in wire fraud scheme
Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer to steal $106K in donations over seven years.

Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer to steal $106K in donations over seven years. Had blog documenting fake cancer and social media pages where people could donate. 

A Northern California woman has admitted to stealing more than $106,000 in donations by lying to family, friends and well-wishers about having cancer for nearly seven years. 

Amanda Riley, 36, on Tuesday pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud and could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in February, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.

In her plea agreement, the Gilroy, San Jose woman acknowledged that between September 2012 and January 2019, she raked in cash by falsely claiming she battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma and solicited donations on social media.

‘She posted photos of medications, photos of herself at hospitals, and photos of herself allegedly suffering the side of chemotherapy’ and even shaved her head to make it appear she had lost her locks due to the treatment, the U.S. attorney’s statement said.

Riley also organized several in-person fundraisers, including at a church, prosecutors said. 

Social media pages linked to ‘battle with cancer’ donation icon

She acknowledged receiving more than 400 donations, which she used for unspecified ‘personal expenses.’

The convicted con artist concocted her scheme in October 2012 and began documenting her bogus illness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

She also launched a blog, titled Lymphoma Can Suck It, according to federal prosecutors. 

Riley shared photos of herself with captions claiming she was taking cancer drugs and receiving treatment the Mercury News reported.

She went so far as to shaved her head to make it appear as if she lost her hair during chemotherapy.

Her blog linked to a support page, which included false information about her fake ‘battle with cancer.’ 

The description reads that Riley was initially diagnosed with cancer in June 2012 and had a brief remission the following year before the lymphoma returned ‘with a vengeance’ as a Stage-4 metastatic cancer, requiring several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment at various hospitals around the country, including Johns Hopkins Hospital.  

Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to faking cancer in wire fraud scheme
Amanda Riley San Jose woman pleads guilty to wire fraud in a scheme in which she faked having Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. Image via social media.

Donations were going straight to woman’s personal bank account

The now-defunct page featured a clickable ‘donate now’ icon for visitors to donate money online, and encouraged them to make contributions to ‘support Amanda’ and help her ‘battle with cancer.’ 

Riley also received money from donors via checks that were deposited into her personal bank account from her friends, family and members of her church True Crime reported.

The donations came from a Facebook challenge, CrossFit fundraiser, Christmas ornament sale, quilt raffle, Chili’s Grill & Bar fundraiser, calendar sales and eBay auctions of various items, including an electric guitar autographed by country music stars John Michael Montgomery and LeAnn Rimes.

In reality, Riley has never had Hodgkin’s lymphoma or any other type of cancer.

‘When people donated to Riley over the internet or at in-person fundraisers, they believed their donations would be used to pay Riley’s cancer-related expenses,’ according to the U.S. attorney’s statement. 

‘In fact, Riley had no cancer-related expenses, and donors’ funds were simply deposited into Riley’s personal bank account.’

Riley’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2022. The woman faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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