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Amanda Riley documented her heartbreaking story online with care: a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, piles of medications, chemotherapy that caused her hair to fall out. She had a blog, Lymphoma Can Suck It, to keep supporters up to date and in return, they donated more than $100,000 to fund her treatment.
Except she never had cancer.
The 37-year-old San Jose woman was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud in October, the Department of Justice announced.
Between September 2012 and January 3, 2019, Riley faked her cancer and tricked people into donating on her website and at in-person fundraisers at a nearby church and a Chili’s Grill & Bar, according to prosecutors.
“Riley went to great lengths to maintain her deception: she shaved her head to make it appear as if she were receiving chemotherapy; she falsified medical records; she forged physicians’ letters and medical certifications; she convinced family members to echo her false claims; she gave materially false testimony in several legal proceedings; and she attacked anyone who suggested she was malingering (going so far as to sue one of them),” the DOJ said in a statement.
In total, 349 people donated $105,513.
Judge Beth Labson Freeman, of the Northern District of California, ordered that Riley pay restitution for the full amount of the donations, on top of her 60-month prison sentence.