TikToker Arrested After Scamming GoFundMe Donors Out Of Thousands After Documenting Fake Cancer ‘Battle’

Photo Credit: GoFundMe

An Iowa woman is accused of faking her cancer diagnosis and swindling over $37,000 from concerned donors, NY Post reported. 

Madison ‘Maddie’ Russo was arrested on Jan. 23 after authorities got wind of the 19-year-old’s TikTok campaign where she documented her journey with

“Stage 2 pancreatic cancer, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.”

Russo talked about what it was like being a college student suffering from a tumor

“the size of a football that wrapped around her spine.”

However, Maddie’s story began to crumble when anonymous witnesses claiming to be medical professionals said they recognized faulty medical equipment and


after watching her videos. They notified the police who later issued a search warrant at Russo’s Bettendorf apartment. Police discovered a brown paper bag with medical supplies, an IV pole with a feeding pump filled with cotton swabs, a wig, and pills for nausea in a relative’s name in it, according to the court documents.

The teen reportedly opened a GoFundMe account where she raised $37,303 from more than 439 anonymous donors, officials said. In her GoFundMe description, it reads,

“Maddie is currently undergoing vigorous chemotherapy and radiation treatments that make her very sick… As one can imagine, this diagnosis has been very hard on Maddie’s family… If you are able to, donations would be greatly appreciated to help cover medical expenses and to allow Maddie to focus on one thing only, which is to show that she is stronger than cancer and will beat this.”

The profile has since been removed and donors were reimbursed. 

Russo was charged with first-degree theft and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. 

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