Amanda Christine Riley former California woman sentenced to 5 years jail after faking cancer and scamming family, friends and supporters out of $100K.
A former Bay Area California woman was sentenced to five years jail on Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to soliciting more than $100,000 in donations to help pay for cancer treatments she neither needed nor received the Department of Justice stated.
Amanda Christine Riley, who was then living in San Jose, was also ordered to pay restitution to those she scammed out of their money, along with being placed under supervision for three years following her release.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California had argued in court documents that Riley, 37, started to claim online in 2012 that she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and tried to solicit donations to cover her so-called medical expenses.
Riley had even gone so far as to create a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter along with a blog where she documented her battle with cancer, along with shaving her head to maintain the appearance of an ongoing illness, the Attorney’s Office reports.
The donations – totaling $105,513 – were never used for cancer treatment but instead deposited into her personal bank accounts to pay for living expenses.
Calculated plan to dupe donors
According to federal prosecutors, Riley began documenting her fake illness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in October 2012.
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 woman went so far as to shave her head to give the appearance of having lost her hair during chemotherapy and even falsified medical records with forged doctors’ letter and medical certificates.
Her blog also 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.
UPDATE: Amanda Christine Riley set to plead guilty after being accused by @IRS_CI @USAO_NDCA of pocketing $58K-$106K in donations after falsely claiming she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.Scam led to @Facebook challenge, @CrossFit fundraiser, @eBay auction of guitar signed by @leannrimes pic.twitter.com/hn9HEIcThw
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 7, 2021
Calculated orchestrated ruse involving many vendors
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.
Other 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.
It has since been revealed that Riley had convinced her family members that she had cancer, and went as far to sue one person who questioned her diagnosis.
But 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.
Mental health issues cited
‘In fact, Riley had no cancer-related expenses, and donors’ funds were simply deposited into Riley’s personal bank account.’
She ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges – acknowledging that between September 2012 and January 2019, she raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming she battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma and soliciting donations on social media.
Since then, she lost her job as principal of Pac Point Christian Academy in Gilroy, and she and her husband, Cory, moved with their two sons to Texas the dailymail reported.
Leading into sentencing Riley had faced a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as her defense sought to cap any jail time to 5 years.
Public defenders wrote to the judge last month, noting: ‘She is extremely remorseful and is determined to do everything possible both to make restitution and to earn the forgiveness of the people she has hurt.’
The public defender went on to note that Riley ‘is a devoted wife and mother, and, before her actions ended her career, she was a gifted teacher.’
The defense also claimed Riley had mental health issues, writing: ‘On the surface, Ms. Riley’s upbringing appears to have been relatively stable.
‘Her parents fought often and sometimes imposed harsh punishments on the children, but her basic needs were met, and while she did not have many friends growing up, she was an excellent student who participated in extracurricular activities.
‘As a teenager, however, Ms. Riley experienced a series of traumatic events, the impact of which went unacknowledged and unaddressed for many years.’
Any details of the ‘traumatic events’ were redacted from the document.