It’s amazing that someone could stoop this low, but an Alabama woman actually faked terminal cancer so that she could collect donations on a GoFundMe campaign.
The woman, Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, was sentenced to jail after pleading guilty in August to two charges, one count of bank fraud and one count of wire fraud. Cataldo collected $264,163 in checks and cash from donors. Between 2014 and May 2017, she fooled people into believing she had cancer, with one of her two GoFundMe campaigns titled: “Mom has Terminal Cancer Disney Trip.
U.S. District Judge Virginia Hopkins sentenced Cataldo to 25 months and 20 days in federal prison and ordered her to pay restitution to her victims.
U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town explained, “This defendant’s conduct was reprehensible. For more than two years she engaged in an elaborate scheme that preyed upon the sympathy and generosity of her friends and family. Not only did she fake cancer to take their money, she used her minor child as part of her ruse and allowed the child to believe his mother was dying. She has earned every nickel of her punishment.”
Cataldo’s attorney explained how, after her brother died, she became addicted to painkillers and used part of the money she scammed from people for her drug habit.
AL.com reports that Cataldo explained at her sentencing: “I wish that I could put into words exactly how I feel. I am overcome with sorrow. They trusted me, they loved me… I was deceitful and I lied. I’m sorry. I don’t know a better word than sorry.”
Cataldo, who had been a special education teacher, will also serve three years of probation, with a complete mental and drug health counseling required after her release.
Those weighing in with comments on the Fox News coverage of this story had quite a lot to say, with one person writing: “Now that she has branded herself a liar, if she really does get cancer, no one will believe her! Once again, choices have consequences, and please keep her away from the special needs kids, she has nothing she needs to be teaching them or her child!”
Others weighed in with how repulsive this woman’s actions were, with one commenter explaining: “And people like me with LEGIT health issues and struggling big time to make ends meet, can’t get help from anyone. I’m about to lose my CDL license because of the meds they are putting me on in December, which is my bread and butter. I hate society, I really do. The REAL victims get screwed every day because of people like this.”
Another commenter had an idea for a better punishment: “Wow. What a crime. What a sentence. In my Triple Negative Breast Cancer groups we lose as many as 4 young women in one week. Young women average ages of ’20’s-’40’s. So many lose their jobs, quality of life, income, means & savings… Very Sad… I think working with cancer patients and helping them use the bathroom or hold the barf bags be a job for those that fake cancer. Also to work in cancer hospitals and in hospice situations and see what it looks like to be needy and dying.”