Jail for Belle Gibson’s Alleged Cancer Charity Fraud ?
Controversial ‘wellness warrior’ Belle Gibson – who lied about having a brain tumour and claimed her alternative, healthy lifestyle cured her – is under investigation by a consumer watchdog for charity fraud and deceiving customers.
Gibson, whose ‘whole foods’ business became famously successful with endorsements from Penguin publishing and Apple, is currently being investigated by Consumer Affairs Victoria over claims that she breached the state’s fundraising act.
Earlier in the year it was revealed that Ms Gibson had failed to fulfil promised donations to various charities, with an estimated $300,000 not reaching the charities it was intended for.
The former wellness blogger claimed that her company was ‘holding’ the donations but that the firm was in a ‘mess’ and had been unable to pass them.
Under the fundraising act, appeals can only be made if an individual or company is registered or exempt, and also requires that organisations receiving the funds must be aware of the fundraiser, reported The Herald Sun.
Ms Gibson reportedly organised a fundraising drive for at least five charities through her 200,000 strong online followers, though four of the organisations were unaware that funds were being solicited on their behalf.
The fundraising act also makes it illegal to make ‘misleading or deceptive’ statements for the sake of commerce, which could be applied to Ms Gibson’s false claims about her battle with cancer.
The former health blogger has admitted to lying about her diagnosis that she had terminal brain cancer that had spread to other organs.
Ms Gibson’s book, The Whole Pantry, was pulled from shelves by Penguin while her app was removed from the Apple Watch.
Persons found to have breached the act could face 12 months’ imprisonment, as well as facing personal fines of more than $14,000, reported The Herald Sun.