TikToker Madison Russo arrested for “scamming” $37,000 with fake cancer diagnosis

TikToker Madison Russo arrested for "scamming" $37,000 with fake cancer diagnosisFacebook: Madison Russo / GoFundMe

TikToker Madison Russo was arrested and charged with first-degree theft, after allegedly scamming $37,000 in donations pretending she had cancer.

The 19-year-old, who lives in Iowa, lied on TikTok and GoFundMe about battling pancreatic cancer and having a tumor “the size of a football,” police say.

On January 23, Madison ‘Maddie’ Russo was arrested on a first-degree theft charge, a felony punishable in Iowa by up to 10 years in prison.

Police stated that the TikToker faked having “Stage 2 pancreatic cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and a tumor the size of a football that wrapped around her spine.”

Russo documented her apparently fake cancer battle on TikTok and on a GoFundMe page, where she had raised $37,303 from 439 unsuspecting donors, officials said.

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According to the police, the accused con artist stole photos of cancer patients posted on social media, and shared them as her own.

TikToker Madison Russo arrested for "scamming" $37,000 with fake cancer diagnosisGoFundMe
Russo had raised more than $37,300 from 439 donors, before her GoFundMe page was taken down on January 30.

However, on January 11, medical professionals reported noticing “life-threatening inaccuracies” in the way she was using medical equipment in posed photographs and videos.

When police raided her apartment, they seized a fake wig, an IV pole with a feeding pump filled with cotton balls, medical supplies in a relative’s name, and cash, court records show.

GoFundMe addressed the fundraiser in a statement to McClatchy News, saying the site has “a zero tolerance policy of misuse of our platform and cooperate with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing.”

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Everyone who has donated to her fundraiser has been reimbursed, and the 19-year-old has been banned from GoFundMe. One donor told KWQC she was “shocked” when she learned about the teenager’s arrest.

Russo was released from the Scott County Jail, after a $10,000 cash bond was posted on her behalf and is waiting to appear in a trial. She will be arraigned on March 2.