Mom Arrested For Faking Kid's Leukemia To Scam Donations

A Detroit-area mother was arraigned this weekend on charges that she had faked her 12-year old son having leukemia to scam for donations. She shaved his head and eyebrows, drugged him with opiates in his apple sauce, and started posting Facebook updates about his condition and her need for help paying his medical bills.

Donations included $7,000 from a church fundraiser, other cash, and an Xbox for the son.

The boy was not in on the scam, in fact, he himself believed he was dying of cancer.

The charade went on until the out-of-work single Detroit mother living in a house in foreclosure started telling relatives that the boy had died, but there wouldn’t be a funeral because she couldn’t bear to look at his body in a coffin. That’s when relatives got suspicious and called police to investigate.

Even after the boy was removed from the house by police, the mother continued to tell past donors that the boy had died and she needed money for his funeral.

If you suspect a scam, you should alert the authorities.

Mich. mom accused of faking son’s cancer arraigned [AP]
Mom Drugged Son, Said He Had Cancer, Scammed $7,000 [Gawker]

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  1. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    Wow, that’s really awful… I wonder what other scams the woman has used her son for.

  2. ARP says:

    There is a special place in hell for a person like this.

    They should lock her up and throw away the key. But more than likely, she’ll do less time than a teenager who got caught with some pot.

    • subsider34 says:

      At the very least she’ll lose custody of her son.

      • _UsUrPeR_ says:

        Not like he was anything special to her anyway. I kind of wonder if people like this even care about their children.

    • Blitzgal says:

      I doubt it. She’s being held on $100K bond. And she’s showing zero remorse. They caught her trying to flee with hair dye and a disguise in her car. She involved a kid in this, so she’s probably going to do some time.

      • ElBobulo says:

        “And she’s showing zero remorse”. — I always find this fascinating. I hear it on the news constantly. As if the crime is somehow lessened if someone “shows remorse”. When did this start?

        • Mimet says:

          If someone doesn’t show remorse the judge usually throws the book at them and puts them under the jail. Remorse is a big deal.

  3. BigBoat2 says:

    Good pic.

  4. mmmsoap says:

    From the limited information available from the article(s), I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the mom had some sort of mental illness, especially since this started just after the husband died. Actually drugging one’s child is pretty extreme, but seems like she had a pretty small payout (only $7000?). A more organized scammer could have gotten significantly more money ($100,000 or more) with out harm to the child, while she did harm her child, it doesn’t seem like that was her overall goal. She seems more focused on the attention from the facebook posts, etc.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Munchausen-by-proxy?

      I don’t think she’ll serve a day in prison. But she shouldn’t be around kids…ever.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        Did you see that law and order: svu episode, too?

      • Bremma says:

        Münchausen by proxy is exactly right. Sometimes people will call this version regular Münchausen (as I was thinking of doing until I double checked myself). It’s so sad. And sometimes the parents just can’t stop or won’t admit they’re doing wrong. I saw a special about a girl whose mother would drug the girls food to make her seem sick all the time. The little girl was on a feeding tube, and maybe had a colostomy bag. Upon being removed from the mother, all the girl’s symptoms disappeared.

  5. UltimateOutsider says:

    The AP article makes it sound like the boy actually thought he was dying of Leukemia. That is a big WTF right there. Shame on the mom.

    • LaurelHS says:

      What’s really sick is that this has actually happened before. A woman named Terri Milbrandt shaved her daughter Hannah’s head and gave her sleeping pills and told everyone in their hometown of Urbana Ohio that Hannah had leukemia. Hannah was only seven at the time and she believed that she really had leukemia; her mother even sent her to counseling to help her deal with her “impending death”! Her mother got thousands of dollars in donations before the scam was exposed. I’d say this was sickening and inhuman but that would be a major understatement.
      http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/03/29/1048653901707.html

  6. dawnitopia says:

    eeeehhhh…..what??? drugged him with opiates….wow….. :::mouth agape::: just unreal…

  7. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    Munchausen’s by proxy sounds like a good explanation, but I am not a doctor.

    • Julia789 says:

      Could be that, or she could just be an evil person looking for drug money, etc. Either way, she’s sick in the head.

    • _UsUrPeR_ says:

      No, this is just a scam. Münchhausen by proxy involves doctors being involved. If this lady were to have taken her kid to the hospital and insisted to doctors that her kid had cancer, THEN it could be considered another type of psychological disorder.

      • Julia789 says:

        True, Munchausen’s is about attention and sympathy never about money. This lady specifically asked for cash cash cash and nothing but cash.

        Most people with Munchausen’s spend weeks in hospital at their child’s side, enjoying doctors fawning over them and sympathy, never looking for money. Some spend thousands of their own money on medical treatments for their children that they caused!

  8. Bob Lu says:

    Just curious, shouldn’t opiates make you feel… kind of good?

    • redbess says:

      I can only speak for myself (well, and a friend, who’s told me she feels the same way), but opiates make me tired, unable to think clearly, and lethargic. Maybe some people like that feeling but I bloody well hate it.

      • mmmsoap says:

        And they can cause hallucinations in some, especially with the wrong dosage. There are many who do not enjoy opiates as a “high”.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Codeine makes my mind race and I can’t sleep or think well when I’m taking them. It’s not fun for me and I’ll only use opiates when I absolutely need to.

    • Julia789 says:

      Medications that have one effect on adults often have an opposite effect on children. That is why sleepy cold medicines make some children extremely hyper. There is a medical term for it, it’s very common.

      Regardless, when I’ve taken opiate based pain killers after surgery, I felt just awful. I was in a dizzy stupor and felt like I was going to vomit. I did not like it at all and switched to Advil at a high dose.

  9. W10002 says:

    Wow, they did this scam in Law & Order once. People like this are terrible and deserve what ever punishment they get.

  10. crazedhare says:

    My kid ACTUALLY died from cancer. Maybe she could come over and visit and see what our lives are actually like. I would say she should go visit a children’s oncology hospital to get some perspective, but I don’t want her trashy ass around the kids. They deal with enough already.

  11. Cry Havoc says:

    Surely Funke grew up and changed her M.O.?

  12. SimonGodOfHairdos says:

    What a disgusting human being.

  13. cmdr.sass says:

    There’s nothing sadder than a kid with cancer who knows he’s going to die. I hope she never gets her son back.

  14. herbie says:

    I frequent another board where a woman has an ongoing cancer-related saga, and she seeks both emotional and financial support constantly, as well as tells grandiose tales of all the people who are throwing fundraisers, and lists costs in detail of all the medications, etc.

    It’s because of stories like this Consumerist post that I secretly don’t believe a word of this other woman’s tale of woe.

  15. backinpgh says:

    This wouldn’t even be all that surprising if she didn’t have her own KID thinking he was going to die. That is absolutely disgusting.

  16. Conformist138 says:

    Ugh, how disgusting. One of my best friends has survived cancer 3 times since he was 13, it’s one of the most horrifying things a child or parent can experience; everyone around the sick person is along for the ride of fear and helplessness as they watch someone they love suffer. That someone would not only lie to others, but actually convince the child that he is deathly ill is so beyond… just… too mad for words.

    May I suggest we bring back the lovely tradition of tossing people to lions for sport? Might as well take advantage of the fact that I (and I’m sure many others) care nothing for her as a human being.

  17. Pax says:

    Jesus, that poor boy. :(

  18. shadowhh says:

    She will get the kid back for sure. Now, if she was giving the kid happy meals, that would be grounds to take the kid away…..

    /sarcasm

  19. andyg8180 says:

    My Name is Earl FTW!

  20. Clyde Barrow says:

    I’ve lived here going on ten years and this does NOT surprise me in the least. This area is a breeding ground of ignorant people in this age range. Most are high school graduates, have worked at autmotive companies for the past 3 decades, drink daily, smoke like a chimney, and do just about anything except educate themselves and live a healthy life-style. Because of the economy taking a bust, their lifestyles have basically been turned off and they’re desparate. The plethora of white-trash hillbillies up here is amazing and this is nothing compared to what has happened since I’ve been here. I find this behavior disgusting.

  21. Sparty999 says:

    wasn’t that a Family Guy episode?

    • MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

      No, Family Guy stole this lady’s idea. Then Seth went back in time and created the episode so no one would accuse him of stealing material, again.

      LOL. I thought the same thing, too.

      Gumble to Gumble FTW

  22. ouijabored says:

    That is truly awful and disgusting. That poor kid! What would ever possess a mother to put her child through that?!

  23. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    There is a VERY SMALL PART OF ME that understands how desperate people (especially parents) will do whatever it takes to survive (John Q-ish). This reason would work very well had she not been physically and mentally abusing her child.