Woman accused of profiting via GoFundMe from fake cancer diagnosis
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon woman is accused of profiting financially by faking a cancer diagnosis, but she will most likely not be charged.
Jenifer Jones Gaskin announced in 2014 that she had been diagnosed with cancer, The Register-Guard reported Saturday.
Jill Hanns had set up a GoFundMe page for Gaskin that brought in more than $10,000. Hanns considered herself a friend of Gaskin, but became suspicious in September 2015 before authorities confirmed her gut feeling.
At one point, Hanns said Gaskin withdrew $6,500 from the GoFundMe account and bought her daughter a Jeep and her son braces.
Police could not find any proof that Gaskin ever had been treated for cancer at the hospitals she claimed to have received treatment. Medical records and insurance claims were subpoenaed by the Lane County District Attorney's Office, but turned up no results.
Charging Gaskin is problematic due to how GoFundMe donations operate and Gaskin's lack of a confession, authorities said.
To be considered a felony, a theft needs to be in the amount of $1,000 or more. But the donations to Gaskin on GoFundMe came in small increments and from donors in multiple states, which means most charges would be misdemeanors. Authorities also said it would be a difficult and expensive to bring together all of the people who donated.
"The cost of pursuing that prosecution would be prohibitive, given the nominal amount of donations per person, and the fact that the defendant would be highly unlikely to agree to telephone testimony for witnesses, as she has a right to 'confront her accusers,'" Lane County Chief Deputy District Attorney Erik Hasselman said.
GoFundMe has said it will refund the donations.
The Eugene police case has been suspended, but is not closed.
"I would like to see her face charges," Hanns said. "She needs to pay some price for this. She can't just get off scott free."
Information from: The Register-Guard