FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a Florida couple lied to their 13-year-old son about having brain cancer so they could use his fictitious illness to raise money for nonexistent medical expenses.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office says on social media that 34-year old Ginny Long and 47-year old Robert Long were arrested Thursday and charged with one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud.
“The 13 year old has spent the last eight months believing he is going to die from brain cancer, but the OCSO’s investigation revealed his medical records prove no brain tumors exist,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.
When investigators talked to the boy, he said his mother told him he was going to die.
“He says it scared him and he didn’t like to talk about it,” the sheriff’s office continued.
Detectives say the Longs set up a T-shirt fundraiser for the boy at his school last May and shared the bogus cancer diagnosis on their Facebook accounts. A GoFundMe site was also set up for the boy. The sheriff’s office didn’t say how much money was raised.
GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said the company will issue refunds to anyone who donated to the couple. Whitehorne said GoFundMe also has banned 34-year-old Ginny Long and 47-year-old Robert Long from the crowdfunding site.
The sheriff’s office began investigating in November, after school resource officers began to suspect the boy was being exploited.
Jail records didn’t list attorneys for the Longs.
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