According to the court documents, the 36-year-old defendant has admitted to stealing more than $106,000 in donations by lying to family, friends and well-wishers about having cancer for 7 years. On Tuesday, the 36-year-old woman pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud and could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in February.
In her plea deal, the woman from California, Amanda Riley, acknowledged that between September 2012 and January 2019, she raked in cash by falsely claiming she battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma and solicited donations on social media.
Prosecutors say that the defendant posted photos of medications, photos of herself at hospitals, and photos of herself allegedly suffering the side of chemotherapy and even shaved her head to make it appear she had lost her locks due to the treatment.
She also organized several in-person fundraisers, including at a church. Riley admitted to receiving more than 400 donations, which she used for unspecified personal expenses.
She started her scheme in October 2012 and began documenting her bogus illness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. She also launched a blog. Prosecutors say that the 36-year-old defendant shared photos of herself with captions claiming she was taking cancer drugs and receiving treatment.
She went so far as to shaved her head to make it appear as if she lost her hair during chemotherapy. Her blog was also linked to a support page, which included false information about her fake battle with cancer, prosecutors say.
The donations came from a Facebook challenge, CrossFit fundraiser, Christmas ornament sale, quilt raffle, Chili’s Grill & Bar fundraiser, calendar sales and eBay auctions of various items, including an electric guitar autographed by country music stars John Michael Montgomery and LeAnn Rimes.
In reality, Riley has never had Hodgkin’s lymphoma or any other type of cancer. Prosecutors say that she had no cancer-related expenses, and donors funds were simply deposited into Riley’s personal bank account.
According to the court documents, the 36-year-old defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. This story will be updated as new information become available.