A Pennsylvania woman is accused of soliciting money from people online to help her cope with a cancer condition that did not exist, authorities said.
Jessica Ann Smith, 31, of Chester Springs was charged with theft by deception, WPVI reported. She was arraigned and released on her own recognizance.
On Tuesday, authorities in Delaware confirmed Smith has identity theft and criminal impersonation of a law enforcement officer charges pending against her, according to Wilmington police, the television station reported.
"We had a lot of suspicion right off the bat," podcaster Jeff Bergh said. "Honestly, the whole interview seemed off from the very beginning. I have a lot of experience reading body language, so I just could kind of tell that she was lying." https://t.co/TaNf7bkJKB— Action News on 6abc (@6abc) November 6, 2019
Authorities said Smith used her maiden name -- Cornell -- and created GoFundMe and Facebook pages to collect funds to help defray costs of a severe case of colon cancer, according to WPVI.
Smith, who is a powerlifter, wrote she was "facing tremendous medical bills, travel costs, paying for the care of her children and missed work," WPVI reported. People donated more than $10,000 to her cause, authorities said.
"She made people believe that she had a very serious cancer diagnosis. The fact is she didn't have it. She lied about that," acting Chester County District Attorney Mike Noone told the television station.
When some people online began to express skepticism about Smith's condition, she defended herself in a podcast that aired in August, The Washington Post reported. "If anyone straight up came up to me and said, 'I think you're faking this,' I literally would say, 'OK, you're coming to chemo with me on Monday,'" Smith said on the The Ever Evolving Truth podcast in August. "The nurses would love it."
In March, Smith told the Philly Voice she had overcome a double hip replacement, a rare heart condition and a cancer-related hysterectomy.
An affidavit of probable cause from Monday's arrest shows Smith's doctor said the woman "was not suffering from any condition that she was currently claiming to be afflicted by."
"On top of that, she lied about her own father's death to get an extra day off from work," Noone told WPVI.
Smith's father is still alive, Noone told the television station.
Smith's husband, Robert Smith, went to police in Uwchlan Township on July 31 to file a report after a friend alerted police about Jessica Smith's fundraising, the Post reported.
Rober Smith told police that “to the best of his knowledge, his wife does not have cancer of any form,” according to a police report. Robert Smith said he also checked every medical record at his home and found no evidence of the cancer diagnosis, the newspaper reported.
"This is a situation where people did the right thing. It's important to do the right thing when you see a crime, and here, multiple people, multiple witnesses, came forward to help the police," Noone told WPVI.
Jessica Smith will be arraigned in court Nov. 12, according to court records.
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