Fake cancer and convince the public to donate to your “treatment” and you just might go to prison…for a very long time. Jennifer Flynn Cataldo was charged with two counts of theft by deception in Alabama on Friday, leaving her loved ones and community in a state of shock.
The 37-year-old Sterrett, Alabama woman is accused of faking terminal cancer for seven years and raising about $38,000 on the internet via the GoFundMe website to pay for the treatment she claimed to be receiving. She garnered far more money from her loving parents, friends, and members of her community, police investigators say. Jennifer Flynn Cataldo is now sitting in a Shelby County Jail cell on a $100,000 bond and awaiting trial on theft charges.
— infowe (@infowe) May 6, 2017
Both the FBI and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office worked together to investigate the online cancer fundraising campaign and related schemes initiated by Jennifer Cataldo, AL.com reported. Cataldo’s husband was out-of-work when the theft by deception scenario allegedly began. The couple has one young son together.
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo allegedly started two GoFundMe pages in an effort to garner money from kind-hearted internet users from around the country. Cataldo’s pages reportedly stated the tens of thousands of dollars raised would be used to both pay her cancer treatment medical bills and to cover expenses for a family trip to Disney.
The GoFundMe online fundraising accounts portrayed the Alabama woman as a terminal cancer patient but law enforcement investigators maintain there is nothing physically wrong with Jennifer Cataldo.
Police officials believe Jennifer Flynn Cataldo launched the fake cancer ruse all by herself and deceived not only her dearest friends, but her family as well, according to the Alabama Political Reporter.
“I can’t understand why she would’ve done it,” Robert Flynn, the father of the fake cancer suspect, said. “I just don’t know what would drive someone to do something like that. And I don’t know how she could keep us fooled for so long. I guess we should have known. Looking back, we should have. I don’t know.”
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo of Sterrett faces 2 counts of first-degree theft by deception.https://t.co/Yg0ZJ2gRiR
— The Tuscaloosa News (@tuscaloosanews) May 5, 2017
Jennifer Cataldo’s parents had contacted a local reporter to claim then Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had cheated their daughter out of a $17 million legal settlement. Robert and Sally Flynn begged the journalist to investigate a matter they considered “political corruption.”
“Dirty instruments were used to perform a biopsy on me and from that I contracted sepsis in my blood,” Cataldo told the reporter when explaining why she filed a lawsuit and won such a massive settlement. “The sepsis later turned into cancer. Now, I have three tumors in my brain and 12 tumors in my abdomen. I lost a kidney and the other, the doctor said, is filled with cancer. I’m on dialysis.”
The parents of the supposed terminal cancer patient used most of their life savings to support the daughter they believed was gravely ill. Jennifer’ mother often drove her to doctor’s appointments but never went inside with her daughter. Cataldo’s father is a disabled Vietnam veteran who is confined to a wheelchair.
Robert Flynn told the reporter Strange was preventing the money owed to his daughter from being distributed to her due to an error in the court’s payment collection system. The attorney general allegedly took possession of the funds and promised to forward the money to Cataldo, but three years had passed without a dime being handed over to his daughter.
The worried father also maintained the lawsuit payment issue had been heard by several judges, but the dispute was still unresolved. He went on to say Jamie Moncus, a friend of Cataldo’s recently deceased brother and her supposed attorney, had documents and an audio tape which allegedly revealed the Alabama Governor and the attorney general admitted his daughter was owed the money, but they were essentially just waiting on her to die.
Flynn asked the reporter, Josh Moon, to help them “get us out of this hell,” because his daughter was running out of time and the family was running out of money to help with her care and cancer treatment.
The reporter did make a phone call to the family attorney as Robert Flynn had suggested and quickly realized fraud was occurring, but not at the hands of the former elected officials. After the reporter rattled on about possible political corruption the attorney simply said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Cataldo is accused of bilking scores of people out of money both online and in her community, the bulk of it coming from her own parents. Moon and Moncus delved deeply into the claims made by Jennifer Flynn Cataldo to her parents, friends, their community, and online donors and then turned the information over to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the FBI.
“The investigation of Cataldo centered around her use of two online GoFundMe fundraising campaigns, through which she received more than $38,000 from donors wishing to assist her with medical bills and a family vacation to Disney,” a statement from the Alabama Attorney General’s Office said. “The fundraising campaigns identified Cataldo as a terminal Cancer patient. The investigation of Cataldo has uncovered that her claim of having terminal Cancer was in fact not true.”
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo allegedly told some massive whoppers when convincing her parents she was the victim of political treachery. She claimed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader personally traveled to Alabama to investigate why she hadn’t received the lawsuit settlement money.
Cataldo also allegedly said her lawsuit case was heard by the Supreme Court and in the end, forced then House Speaker John Boehner to resign in disgrace. She also supposedly said a retired judge who also happened to be the first black federal judge in Virginia, became so moved by her story that he called to check on her frequently over the past three years.
Jennifer Cataldo also told her parents a Birmingham reporter interviewed her and the attorney outside the courthouse after a hearing but refused to air the piece because of pressure from the Alabama Governor and the attorney general.
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