Thursday 2 February 2023

19-Year-Old TikToker Arrested For Scamming Hundreds of GoFundMe Donors Out of $37,000 with Fake Cancer Diagnosis


Madison Russo

A 19-year-old Iowa woman was arrested for scamming hundreds of GoFundMe donors out of more than $37,000 with a fake cancer diagnosis.

Madison Russo scammed the donors by lying on her TikTok account about having pancreatic cancer and a tumor the size of a football.

For nearly a year, Madison Russo provided updates about her cancer journey to her social media followers, but it was all a lie.

Russo never had cancer. 

Some of her social media followers wondered why her hair didn’t fall out after dozens of rounds of chemo.


Police were tipped off to Madison Russo’s scam after TikTokers with medical experience noticed she was misusing her medical kit and tubes (photo below).

Police found wigs, anti-nausea pills in a relative’s name and fake medical supplies in Russo’s apartment.

According to reports, GoFundMe refunded all of the money back to the donors.

Russo is out of jail on bond and is due back in court in March.

She faces up to 10 years if convicted of the first-degree theft charge.

ABC News reported:

Authorities say a 19-year-old woman scammed more than 400 donors, accumulating over $37,000, with false claims that she suffered from cancer, which she had allegedly touted on social media.

Madison Russo was charged with theft on Jan. 23, according to the Eldridge Police Department in Eldridge, Iowa.

According to the press release, Russo allegedly made false claims including that “she suffered acute lymphoblastic leukemia, stage 2 pancreatic cancer and a tumor the size of a football.”

In an investigation, subpoenas for medical records were obtained and confirmed Russo has never been diagnosed with any kind of cancer or tumor from any medical facilities in the area.

A GoFundMe page was allegedly established on behalf of Russo and was highlighted in a local newspaper, and she was also a guest speaker at St. Ambrose University, the National Pancreas Foundation in Chicago and on a podcast for Project Purple, the press release said.

Authorities said witnesses “who have medical experience” worked with an investigating officer to find “medical discrepancies” in Russo’s photos posted on her social media, discovering Russo allegedly accepted private donations from “other businesses, nonprofit organizations, school districts and private citizens.”

TikTok users called Madison Russo out for misusing her medical kit:

@the_hoppy_family #stitch with @scrubhacks Side note: my nose hurts after doing that 😅#maddierussofakecancer #lying #gtube #maddierusso #liar ♬ original sound – Nicole Challis

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