A beauty queen pretended to have cancer before scamming thousands of dollars in donations from well-wishers, according to authorities.
Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, the reigning Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International, has been jailed after not being able to post bail and will be stripped of her title.
The 23-year-old allegedly deceived everyone for two years – including her own family.
Claiming she had leukemia, she shaved her head and wore a mask as she attended fundraisers. At one benefit, $14,000 was raised for her care, state police said.
Cops say her sister, who believed Weaver-Gates was ill, even drove her to Baltimore’s famed Johns Hopkins Hospital and waited in the lobby for hours while Weaver-Gates was supposedly having treatment. Instead, she was apparently hiding in the hospital.
Weaver-Gates even posted an Instagram photo toasting herself with a hospital glass last month with the message: “I can't believe it's been a week already since I found out that I'm in remission again!!!”
But officers acting on an anonymous tip discovered the hospital had never heard of her.
Butler's Beauties, the company that sponsors the pageant, said they were "led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease."
They are making her return her crown and sash, they said on Facebook.
"When you deceive the public and take people’s money that is under the pretense of fraud, we will not tolerate those actions," the statement read. "Our hearts go out to those affected by cancer and to those who were taken advantage of by Miss Weaver-Gates."
Troopers are asking the public to come forward if they donated any money.
She was arraigned Tuesday on charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property. She faces a preliminary hearing on August 19.