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  • Writer's pictureVolume 82 Magazine

Iowa Teen Scammed GoFundMe Donors for Thousands of Dollars After Pretending To Have Cancer


An Iowa teen is charged with theft by means of deception after scamming GoFundMe donors out of thousands of dollars by falsely claiming she had pancreatic cancer and leukemia. 19-year-old Madison Russo reportedly swindled donors out of more than $37,000 after discussing her fake condition on TikTok.


Russo allegedly told online users she had a tumor the size of a "football" and stage 2 cancer. She also made speeches at the college she attends, St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, regarding her condition. The teen appeared on a podcast and spoke to other media outlets about her medical issues.


Allegedly, healthcare professionals who saw her social media posts noticed many abnormal things, such as how her medical equipment was incorrectly set up, and decided to contact the authorities anonymously. Local authorities subpoenaed her medical records and discovered that she was never diagnosed with cancer. While searching Madison's apartment, the police found medications prescribed to someone else, a wig, and medical equipment.


Madison received a $10,000 cash bond upon her January arrest and has since been released. GoFundMe made the following statement about this situation: "GoFundMe has a zero tolerance policy for misuse of our platform and cooperates with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing. All donors have been refunded and we have removed this fundraiser," the statement says. "The organizer has also been banned from using the platform for any future fundraisers. GoFundMe's Giving Guarantee offers a full refund in the rare case when something isn't right; this is the first and only donor protection guarantee in the fundraising industry."


Stay tuned for updates about this story.


Photo Credit: Madison Russo


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