NJ woman faked her son’s cancer to raise money online, officials say
An Ocean County woman pretended her son had died of cancer, and that she was pregnant and homeless, among other lies, in an attempt to collect more than $11,000 through online donation campaigns, authorities announced Thursday.
Holly Garcia, of Little Egg Harbor, won't be getting any money raised, officials said. Instead, the 33-year-old has been charged with computer criminal activity and attempted theft by deception.
Garcia was released from custody this month following an initial appearance in Superior Court, as her case is prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.
An investigation by Pemberton Township police, with assistance from the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, into Garcia's alleged actions began in June when a township couple alerted authorities about a GoFundMe campaign using their son's photo, seeking $5,000 for funeral expenses for a child who had reportedly died from cancer.
Investigators learned that Garcia, who recently signed away her parental rights to the boy, was who created the campaign, the prosecutor's office said.
Further investigation revealed Garcia was behind a number of fictitious campaigns seeking money for an urn for her dead son's ashes; assistance for her son who is going blind; assistance for her unborn child; a stroller for her infant son; and rent money because she was "four months pregnant and homeless."
"Through all those campaigns she had requested a total of $11,350," Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina told New Jersey 101.5. "GoFundMe was able to shut down all the campaigns soon enough, that she wasn't able to receive any money."
As of Thursday afternoon, the prosecutor's office did not have an attorney on record for Garcia. On its website, GoFund Me claims that fraudulent campaigns make up less than one-tenth of 1% of all campaigns. A spokesperson for the company said that no contributions were made to Garcia's campaigns, and that she's banned from using the platform for future campaigns.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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