Woman Exposed For Faking Cancer On Social Media Ordered To Pay Restitution

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Mariane Angela Contributor
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A woman from Iowa, Madison Russo, who fabricated a battle with cancer and shared her fictitious journey on social media, avoided incarceration as the judge sentenced her to probation Friday.

Russo, who is 20 years old, falsely claimed to be suffering from pancreatic cancer, leukemia, and even a football-sized tumor wrapped around her spine. She documented these fraudulent claims on various platforms, including TikTok, GoFundMe, Facebook, and LinkedIn, which prompted over 400 individuals to send her donations, as reported by ABC News.

As part of the 10-year suspended sentence issued Friday, she was also ordered to make restitution in the amount of $39,000 and pay a $1,370 fine. The stipulation is that if she successfully maintains good behavior during her three-year probationary period, she will remain free.

Russo had previously pleaded guilty to first-degree theft in June. During her court appearance Friday, Judge John Telleen rejected a defense request that sought to expunge her conviction upon the successful completion of probation. Instead, the judge emphasized the importance of ensuring that individuals who interact with Russo in the future are aware of her involvement in a “criminal scheme.” He stressed that “serious crimes must have serious consequences,” the outlet added. (RELATED: STUDY: 52% Of People Fake Sick Days In Order To Get Out Of Work)

“Through this scheme, you deceived your friends, your family, your community, other cancer victims, charities and strangers who were motivated by your supposedly tragic story to donate to help support you,” Judge Telleen said.

“A lot of people have made speculation as to why I did this and how somebody who looked like they had everything together could have such a mess,” Russo said in a statement. “I didn’t do this for money or greed. I didn’t do this for attention. I did this as an attempt to get my family back together.”