Texas Teen Collects $17K in Fake Cancer Scam

By Jennifer Abbey

Apr 23, 2012 2:21pm
ap ruth angelica lopez ll 120423 wblog Texas Teen Collects $17K in Fake Cancer Scam

                                                          (Ruben R. Ramirez/The El Paso Times/AP Photo)

A Texas teenager who claimed to be dying of cancer was arrested after investigators found that she lied in order to receive donations.

Angie Gomez, 19, was indicted April 19 on a state felony charge of theft of property of $1,500 to $20,000, according to court documents. She allegedly received $17,000 in donations and gifts, Horizon City police said.

Gomez’s claims that she had cancer began in January 2011, according to reports by the El Paso Times. Gomez told classmates at Horizon City High School that doctors had given her six months to live. She claimed to suffer from leukemia as a child in Kansas City and that it had returned, the El Paso Times reported.

“The doctors are telling me to prepare myself and to start planning for what’s about to come,” Gomez told the El Paso Times in March 2011. “They think the worst is coming, when you start to feel sick and you can’t move. I think they’re all crazy.”

But Gomez never suffered from cancer, police said.

“We haven’t found that at any point in her life that she did have it,” Detective Liliana Medina, of the Horizon City police, told ABCNews.com.

Fundraisers were held to help Gomez start the Achieve the Dream Foundation, which she claimed helped children and families suffering from cancer, the El Paso Times reported. Through the foundation, she sold t-shirts and magnets to raise money, police said. The foundation’s website is no longer online.

A prom had been organized for Gomez after she said she missed her high school’s prom purportedly because of the cancer treatments, the El Paso Times reported. The prom was meant to be a fundraiser for the Achieve the Dream Foundation.

Police launched an investigation in June 2011 when an anonymous person said there were some holes in Gomez’s story, Medina said. It had been six months since doctors supposedly told Gomez her cancer was fatal.

“There were a lot of suspicions,” Medina said. “After we talked to many of the victims, they kind of were like ‘something isn’t right.’”

Gomez’s mother was not aware of the extent of her daughter’s fundraising, police said. She could not be reached by ABC News for comment.

“At one point the mom became aware this was going on,” Medina said. “She tried to talk to her and told her to tell the truth.”

At the time, Gomez’s fundraising was supported by Horizon City High School; however, the district was unaware that her claims were untrue.

“It was a surprise,” Laura Cade, a spokeswoman for the Clint Independent School District, told ABCNews.com.

It is up to the courts to decide if Gomez will return any of the money, Medina said.

Horizon City police arrested Gomez Friday. She was jailed, and her bond was set at $50,000. Gomez’s lawyer did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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