Alabama Woman Charged With Cancer Hoax That Raised $38,000

22618497-largeWe 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.


38 thoughts on “Alabama Woman Charged With Cancer Hoax That Raised $38,000”

  1. Back in the late sixties I was down in Berkeley; drove my VW bug down from BC, blew a gasket, it died just off of University Ave. from the 80 Freeway; sold it for $20.00 to a yard. I thought I’d try ‘panhandling’ on Telegraph Avenue near UC. I asked a guy in a suit for some spare change. He didn’t hear me and said what. I slunk away and made my way back up to Victoria with my thumb. It takes a certain ability to panhandle. I found out in that exchange that I couldn’t muster whatever it took. I wonder, sometimes, what would have happened if it had come easy.

  2. (music– to tune of Britainia Rules The Waves)

    Ugly Pugly!
    Pugly Rules the waves!
    She’s ugly pu uu h ugly all the days.

  3. Once something has value, there will be those of low character using fraud to get it. That includes jobs, movie roles, scholarships, LSATs, grades, tests, scientific research papers, grants, appointments, fame, environmental programs, charities, families or animals in need, natural disasters, insurance payouts, government pork projects, inheritance, victimhood, and horse races. You name it; if it’s worth something, whether that’s money or attention, someone somewhere has cheated to get it.

    It is especially reprehensible when someone preys on the public’s kindness to take advantage. I’ve seen it go on a horse rescues or poor repute, too. This fraud likely enjoyed being the center of attention as well as money.

    It makes you wonder how so many people reach adulthood with an atrophied conscience. 3 people beloved by me are battling cancer right now. One just started losing her gorgeous hair. Scammers like Cataldo are so far beneath those who show real courage and character fighting this pervasive dread disease. They are a festering carbuncle on society.

    1. I like what you have to say, Karen. I think an atrophied conscience starts when a person isn’t taught personal responsibility instead of simple accountability. That leads to “whatever I do, it’s fine if I don’t get caught,” instead of just behaving in a just way because that’s the right way to be. Good character is an important thing to achieve. A person, child or adult, needs a certain level of freedom in order to demonstrate personal responsibility – otherwise they will be stuck in accountability, that is, “I do it because my parents, my boss, God, etc, said so.”

      1. That is a good distinction perhaps we parents should be mindful of teaching our kids.

  4. I just started a GoFundMe for something. Target is $1.7 million.

    The Bugatti Chiron. She’s a beauty & better looking than the scammer in this article. Please donate today. Top donors will get a ride.

    1. Jerry – I will not be donating, but I wish you all the luck. 😉

    2. Jerry – now that’s a frivolous cause I can believe in. Bugatti are aggressively beautiful.

        1. Tempting…I would like a ride in a Bugatti Chiron, but only if I get to drive. Plus, it rhymes with Ducati, one of my favorite motorcycles. I do like the Italian aesthetic. I think it’s funny how Bugatti was founded by a Frenchman, born in Italy, and manufactured in Germany at its inception. I suppose no matter the location, the artistic genes of the Italian are dominant.

          For some reason this conversation reminds me of all the scooters heedlessly zipping around Rome.

          1. Is it still considered related to Italian motorsport if it’s been bought by Volkswagen?

  5. Conon Doyle wrote a case for Sherlock Holmes, ‘The Man With the Twisted Lip’. A respectable husband and business man commuted to London to work on a regular basis. He was an amateur actor and was instead posing as a begger making more than if he were working at his supposed job. Caveat Emptor?

    1. issac – there was a report from a NY paper several years back of a beggar who finished his shift, when to his Beemer, changed into nice clothes and then drove home to Staten Island. At the time, it was estimated he was raking in between 100 and 200 k a year.

    2. A journalist recently wrote a story about posing as a panhandler for several hours. He made less than $4 an hour. To be a successful beggar, you have to run for political office and promise legislative votes in exchange for large donations.

  6. This story should be on in the afternoon. I just got up and saw that ugly photo and almost puked.

  7. This kind of fraud is only possible because the in the US people don’t have decent healthcare. Pathetic.

    1. Riesling – this kind of fraud is only possible because of the internet.

      1. The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.

        Eric Schmidt

  8. If lies were a crime, the Executive and Legislative branches would be in jail.

    Also, you’ve got to give Belinda a good grade for moxie.

  9. Dear Professor Turley,

    Happy Birthday to you. Wishing you happiness, blessings, love, and peace to you always.

    Very Truly Yours,

    Mika Tanegashima

  10. knew her. played left tackle at Bryant High a few years ago…

      1. Ter ber – is she being charged for defrauding her parents or the GoFundMe?

  11. Isn’t this just a more sophisticated form of begging, which has gone on since the dawn of time?

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