At first glance, the story of Belle Gibson is miraculous. A 26-year-old single mother in Melbourne, Australia, Gibson was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer six years ago.
She spurned conventional cancer treatment and self-treated her disease with healing foods, building a media empire based on her experience. Her Instagram account @Healing_Belle, has 197,000 followers.
She wrote a popular cookbook (The Whole Pantry), and developed an app (The Whole Pantry App) that #apple has displayed on iPhones and iPads in Apple stores and planned to launch on its new Apple Watch.
She’s told fans that she donates 25 percent of profits to local charities, and she’s become something of a champion for cancer patients worldwide.
The thing is, she might not actually have cancer.
Nor has she donated the money she’s promised to charity, Australia’s Fairfax Media reports.
Last year, Gibson wrote that she had given $300,000 Australian (about $227,000 U.S.) to various charities. She now says that the money was never donated, as sales of The Whole Pantry app weren’t as high as she had expected.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports, “Ms. Gibson has run two campaigns purporting to raise money for five charities, but Fairfax Media has confirmed that none has a record of receiving a donation.
Four of the organizations, including Melbourne’s Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, had no knowledge fundraising drives had taken place.”