Cancer conwoman Belle Gibson faces more than $1 million in penalties for profiting off false cancer claims and defrauding charities.
The 24-year-old orchestrated a global health scam that gave false hope to seriously ill people and fooled multinational companies including Apple and Penguin.
In the most significant action taken against the disgraced “wellness” blogger, Victoria’s consumer watchdog on Friday launched legal proceedings in the Federal Court that pave the way for a prosecution against Ms Gibson’s company.
The action is in response to Ms Gibson’s false claims of beating terminal brain cancer by eschewing conventional medicine, and the unlawful fundraising appeals run by The Whole Pantry founder in 2013 and 2014.
In separate action, Penguin Publishing will have to pay $30,000 for failing to fact-check Ms Gibson’s book, The Whole Pantry, in which she claims to have cured herself with a healthy lifestyle. The publisher will also be forced to include “prominent warning notice” on all future books that contain claims about natural therapies.
Consumer Affairs Victoria said the legal action followed an in-depth investigation into alleged breaches of Australian Consumer Law. CAV director Simon Cohen has applied for leave to commence proceedings against Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd in the Federal Court of Australia.