SAN JOSE – A 36-year-old Gilroy woman has pleaded guilty to soliciting funds to help pay for cancer treatments she never needed or received, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On Tuesday, Amanda Christine Riley pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud.
According to a plea agreement, Riley admitted that in September 2012, when she was living in San Jose, she “devised and executed a plan to obtain money from donors by falsely claiming she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
“Riley acknowledged her intent was to deceive people into believing she had cancer and, in doing so, convince them to donate money to her,” prosecutors said.
The scheme continued until at least Jan. 3, 2019, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Riley documented her purported illness on social media and in a blog. Prosecutors said she posted photos of medications, photos of herself in hospitals and photos of her suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy. Captions attached to the photos included statements that she was taking cancer drugs and receiving cancer treatment.
“She even shaved her head to make it appear as if she had lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy,” prosecutors said.
The blog included a link to a support page, which also featured false information about Riley’s purported “battle with cancer,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In addition, visitors could click on a “donate now” button to give money to Riley.
Prosecutors said Riley also admitted to organizing fundraisers, including in-person events at the Family Community Church in San Jose, to solicit donations and raise money for cancer-related expenses.
Riley did not have lymphoma or any other type of cancer, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“When people donated to Riley over the internet or at in-person fundraisers, they believed their donations would be used to pay Riley’s cancer-related expenses,” prosecutors said. “In fact, Riley had no cancer-related expenses, and donors’ funds were simply deposited into Riley’s personal bank account.”
Riley admitted to receiving more than 400 donations worth $106,272, prosecutors said.
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U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman scheduled Riley’s sentencing for Feb. 22, 2022. Riley faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News
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