A California woman who faked having cancer for seven years and defrauded people out of more than $100,000 in donations has been sent to prison for five years. Amanda Riley, from San Jose, said she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and claimed in 2012 that she needed money for her medical expenses. Now, she’s headed to prison and will have to pay the cash back.
- Riley, 37, will have to pay restitution. Not only will she have to give the money back to everyone she scammed, but she’ll spend five years behind bars and then be on probation for three years after her release.
- She told her story to everyone and even shared it online. Riley faked her cancer journey online, creating social media pages on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. She went so far as to shave her head to look the part, then stole the $105,513 in donations to live her regular life rather than to receive life-saving treatment she didn’t need.
- Those who donated were deceived. The US attorney said in a statement, as per New York Post: “When people donated to Riley over the internet or at in-person fund-raisers, they believed their donations would be used to pay Riley’s cancer-related expenses. In fact, Riley had no cancer-related expenses, and donors’ funds were simply deposited into Riley’s personal bank account.”
- Riley’s crimes were discovered in 2019. The IRS accused her of one count of wire fraud in 2020 and she pleaded guilty last fall. She was also found to have falsified medical documents and created fake doctors’ notes and certificates in an attempt to present her illness as real. Even her family had stood behind her and believed that she was ill, and Riley was so intent on keeping her story going, she tried to sue someone who questioned it.
- Riley’s attorney insists she’s sorry and her family has tried to stand behind her. “Ms. Riley recognizes the seriousness of her offense,” public defender Jodi Linker to the judge. “She is extremely remorseful and is determined to do everything possible both to make restitution and to earn the forgiveness of the people she has hurt.” Riley’s brother, Tom Maneri, admitted that his sister’s actions were “significant and life-changing” but that it “most likely started out as an outcry for attention and help.” He added: ““I’m confident she was in too deep and didn’t know how to climb back out of the hole she had been digging for so long. After you’ve been living with a big lie on your chest for years, I can imagine it becomes part of your identity.”