Yesterday, a 27-year-old woman was charged with fraud after raising $55,000 by claiming that she was suffering from stage five ovarian cancer. Lucy Wieland, from Townsville, Australia, spent months posting on social media about her supposed illness in order to scam well-intentioned people out of giving her money in order to help her pay for travel and treatment.
In since-deleted posts on Instagram, Wieland posted updates on her "treatment", with one of the last ones being about a chemotherapy treatment she claimed to be undergoing.
"Infusion number two today," she wrote. "Took quite a few attempts to get it right as my silly veins just didn’t want to play the game but we went back to the same old faithful monster on my right arm and got there eventually. Originally we wanted to try to avoid it today because the cannula being used was pretty sizeable, it would be in for quite some time, I’m still bruised from last week and truthfully I’m starting to look a little like a junkie."
This week, the court heard how all of it was a total fabrication, and that Wieland knowingly duped people into handing over money via GoFundMe while she elaborately faked a terminal illness.
Detective Inspector Chris Lawson, who worked on the case against Wieland, said that officers arrested the young woman on Wednesday of this week following a month-long investigation which was opened after police received information from Crimestoppers.
"Some people in the community identified some problems with the story and we conducted investigations to establish the veracity of the claims made by this woman," he said.
"It's disheartening, I mean the real victims here are the people from the community that have heard the stories, have tried to assist as best they can and in some cases what little they have and given the money across in the honest belief they are trying to help people."
As well as shaving her head and setting up photos to give the impression that she was in hospital, Wieland walked with a cane and spoke openly about her experience with having a "terminal illness".
"Terminal illness brings some different and difficult moments with it, one of the hardest for me is the lack of independence," she wrote on Instagram. "I don’t have much of it anymore and I have gotten to the point where most days when walking anywhere other than around the house. I'm now not only super slow but I have to have the support of someone’s arm. Which although on the bright side I could say I’m so blessed to have plenty of people who offer to help me, really highlights how dependent I am becoming on others."
Wieland's boyfriend quit his job in order to become the 27-year-old's full-time carer, but it has not yet been established whether or not he was aware of the scam.
For now, the fraudster has been granted bail on account of her previously clean slate of criminal activity. She is expected to return to court in December to face trial for her actions.