Lifestyle & Belief

Teen fakes cancer, raises $17,000

A West Texas teenager who faked cancer has collected $17,000 in donations through a cancer foundation she started. Now she’s been charged with theft by deception.

During the 2010-11 school year, 18-year-old senior Ruth Angelica "Angie" Gomez, of Horizon City, Texas, announced that she’d battled leukemia as a child and the cancer had returned. She said in January that doctors had given her just six months to live.

Sympathetic classmates and neighbors held fundraisers and made donations to her Achieve the Dream Foundation, which she created in May to help children with leukemia beat cancer, The Associated Press reports. Gomez also gave interviews to the local press and traveled to other schools to talk about fighting cancer. After she told students at Da Vinci High School that she’d missed her senior prom because she’d been in treatment, the students organized a prom party and fundraising event for her, complete with donated limousine and dress, the AP says.

In the spring, a suspicious Horizon City resident complained to police that Gomez did not appear be in declining health, and after a three-month investigation, which included subpoenaing Gomez’s bank records, the police concluded her story was a lie. They filed state jail felony charges against her for theft by deception earlier this week.

"There is nothing to indicate she had cancer. There is no medical records, no doctors," Detective Liliana Medina told the El Paso Times.

While Gomez claimed she’d been treated at the Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and St. Jude Children’s Hospital, hospital records showed no trace of her, the AP reports.

Gomez’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

According to the El Paso Times:

Classmates said that Gomez often looked frail and sickly and that it was not uncommon for her to miss school, supposedly because she was having treatments…. After the investigation began, some former classmates admitted they had suspicions that Gomez wasn't really ill but did not speak up because they did not want to be appear rude.