In my professional job, I investigated traitors, spies, and high-level organised crime, and I have seen scammers of all kinds over the years in both my personal and professional life.
The worst type of fraudster, however, is one who takes advantage of people by falsely about having "Cancer" in order to get cash and recognition.
Regrettably, in this day and age of social media, there are an increasing number of them. Although social media allows knowledge to spread quickly, not everyone utilises it for the best purposes.
Madison Russo, a TikToker, and her scam have already been covered by me. To deceive thousands of GoFundMe donors, she purported to have cancer. And it appears that this type of scam is still going on. I have the authority to proclaim that it continues.
Most of you have likely heard about Belle Gibson's story.
The real reality was exposed after she fabricated her claim of having cancer, getting cured, and making millions.
Belle Gibson, a blogger and marketer, was formerly regarded as a "guru of a healthy life" and, quite plainly, a natural wonder.
The media lapped up Belle's claim that she beat cancer by eating a healthy diet, allowing her to make a nice profit.
Belle Gibson's story reads like a script for a film.
A young, attractive woman is given four months to live after being diagnosed with deadly brain cancer. After two months of chemotherapy and radiation, she chooses to forego traditional care and take matters into her own hands.
Instead, she concentrates on good nutrition and natural therapies. Against all odds, she begins to heal. Her unusual approaches appear to be effective. She miraculously falls pregnant with her first child.
Let us begin from the beginning.
What is the identity of Belle Gibson?
Gibson was born in Tasmania's capital city of Launceston. Gibson's early life, like much of her story, is shrouded in mystery. She grew up on Brisbane's outskirts and claims she never met her father and has had to care for her mother, who has MS, and her autistic brother since she was a youngster.
She sold her story of recovery through healthy eating by establishing a healthy food app and writing a book about "her experience" and "advice" as hundreds of thousands of people followed her on social media.
A surprising diagnosis
Her "survival" story began in 2009. When she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty, she was told by doctors that she only had four months to live, according to her own story. Not satisfied with this (already absurd) claim, she added two months of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other arduous and painful procedures to the story.
Out of desperation, she previously used alternative therapy practices, which she claims saved her life. Holistic medicine, a balanced diet, vitamins, and oxygen therapy were used in her instance to deliver "saving" therapy.
From cancer patient to health professional
Her commercial empire began to expand at that moment, and one of its components was the well-known app "Whole Pantry," which she promoted to the public as "the world's first application dedicated to health and wellness." The app was a great success and made its owner a lot of money immediately away. People were moved by her narrative at a time when wellness and the efficacy of "superfoods" were becoming popular beliefs. She finally accumulated over 200,000 followers.
Making the most of her celebrity, Gibson created The Whole Pantry, a health and wellness app that reportedly received 200,000 downloads in its first month. Gibson's career took off after the app's introduction, and Apple named The Whole Pantry the Best Food and Drink App in 2013. She then agreed to a book deal with Lantern Books, a part of Penguin Books. Her cookbook, The Whole Pantry, was released in October 2014 and includes recipes to help readers live "a well-nourished life" free of dairy, processed sugar, and gluten.
Rich book deals followed, and she was later featured by worldwide media sites, where she explained her "catastrophic case" and received thousands of new Instagram followers every day. She also wrote her own cookbook, which was submitted for publishing in the United Kingdom and for which she received a $70,000 advance.
She made so much money that she purchased a million-dollar coastal home, a BMW X3, and pricey cosmetic operations for herself.
Nonetheless, she has kept her fans up to date on "what the doctors told her" on a daily basis.
Fall from grace
There were thousands of enthusiastic comments on social media, but there was also a lot of scepticism.
Given that she only had four months to live, how did she manage to save herself with food in such a short period of time?
How is it possible that she has no symptoms of such a deadly disease?
All of these mysteries remained unanswered until 2015. Then the truth began to emerge.
Bela mentioned that she works with 20 humanitarian organisations and that 95% of the proceeds from the application are dedicated to philanthropic causes. When journalists Bo Donnelly and Nick Toscano contacted her, they requested more precise information about her health as well as a list of the organisations she had worked with.
Reporters offered her a 24-hour window to reply or provide an explanation after it became clear that she had not donated a single dime to any of the organisations she claimed to support. She literally acted as soon as she received the email.
On the same day, she made small contributions to organisations to whom she had pledged support fifteen months before, and in subsequent conversations with reporters, she made an effort to attract attention to the "flow of money" and other connected matters. Reporters persisted in seeking dubious facts, including new health information, which she refused to provide.
With each response, Bella became further entrenched in her own lies, and a day later, the front page of the newspaper where Toscano and Donelli worked featured a large item titled "Mega blogger Bella Gibson doubts her own cancer claims." One of her exam responses, in which she stated, "Perhaps cancer was a wrong diagnosis by German doctors," was also included in the book by the journalists.
That day, she deleted multiple posts from social media, and the wellness business began to disintegrate. The previous year, the corporation "Apple" that she worked for brought a case against her, and the judge ordered a $410,000 fine.
She's been sued several times for fraud
Gibson was fined $410,000 by the Australian government in September 2017 for making a false commitment to make a charitable donation. She was found guilty on five counts of breaking consumer legislation. She did not appear in civil court for the sessions.
The following chapter
You'd think that after being discovered and punished, the story would end there.
However, nearly two years after being directed to do so, Gibson claimed in June 2019 that she was unable to pay the penalties. According to a Consumer Affairs Victoria financial investigation, Gibson spent more than $91,000 between 2017 and 2019.
Her home has since been raided twice in an attempt to retrieve the money she owes, in January 2020 and May 2021.
Following the original attack, Gibson merged with the Ethiopian population in Victoria, Melbourne, in an unusual turn of events. In a video, Gibson discussed Ethiopian politics, even referring to Ethiopia as "home."
Gibson's social media pages are no longer visible on the internet, and no new information concerning her whereabouts has emerged.
Everyone has a seriously ill family member or acquaintance, rather than a conclusion.
Let me begin by expressing that I have and understand the difficulties we face.
However, I must question you directly: What type of individual jeopardises people's lives by offering advise on how to heal the most serious illnesses?
Will the disgraced wellness influencer resurface someplace else, or has she vanished entirely?
Only time will tell.