An Alabama woman is accused of faking terminal cancer for 7 years and receiving $38,000 in donations through online fundraising campaigns, according to reports.
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, 37, of Sterrett, was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of first-degree theft by deception, reports said.
She is being held in the Shelby County Jail on $100,000 bond.
The Alabama Attorney General's Office began a joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation into Cataldo's online fundraising on April 13.
Cataldo reportedly said she started the GoFundMe page, which has since been removed, for her medical bills in relation to her terminal illness and to help fund a family vacation to Disney, according to AL.com.
Cataldo, however, is not actually ill, according to authorities.
Cataldo acted alone, according to reports, and even tricked her closest friends and her parents.
According to ALreporter.com, Cataldo also received large sums of money from her parents but they have yet to press charges after her arrest.
“I can’t understand why she would’ve done it,” Robert Flynn, Cataldo’s father, told ALreporter.com. “I just don’t know what would drive someone to do something like that. And I don’t know how she could keep us fooled for so long.”
A spokesperson for GoFundMe said people who contributed to Cataldo's fundraising campaign will get their money back.
"First, our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors will get their money back," GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne said.
Whithorne said cases like these are rare.
"With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others' generosity," Whithorne said.