We have previously discussed prosecutions of people who defraud caring people by saying that they or a loved one is dying. The latest such case is out of Shelby County, Alabama. Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, 37, allegedly faked terminal cancer and secured $38,000 in donations through online fundraising campaigns. She is charged with two counts of first-degree theft by deception
The case is another example of how fraud can be prosecuted without making lies a crime generally. For example, I have previously criticized past prosecutions for stolen valor (here and here) as a threat to the first amendment. Such cases are deterred through social stigma and simple research when there is no economic benefits derived from the fraud. If true, this case could bring a significant jail sentence given the level of alleged premeditation and orchestration by the alleged culprit.
Cataldo allegedly used GoFundMe fundraising campaigns to raise money for her medical bills and a family vacation to Disney. She claimed to be a terminal cancer patient seven years ago. Prosecutors say that she does not have cancer.