A couple in New York concocted a bogus story about their son having late-stage cancer – and used the fake diagnosis to raise more than $3,300 from unwitting donors, authorities said.
Martin LaFrance and Jolene LaFrance, both 35, were booked Friday on charges of scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child after a four-month probe found they had lied about their little boy’s cancer diagnosis, according to the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies learned that the Port Byron couple used a GoFundMe account to solicit donations for their son – who they claimed was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, as well as additional tumors in his chest, according to an archive of the fundraiser.
“They have been out of work since March, leaving them with no income,” the website read. “Any funds raised will go toward medical expenses, gas for travel, and anything else related to this difficult time!”
LaFrance himself commented on the page, thanking people for their donations, saying he was “truly humbled” by the display of generosity. More than $3,330 was raised for the boy, coming from a total of 42 donors, according to the website.
An investigation, however, “revealed conclusively” that the boy was never diagnosed with cancer or any other medical condition, according to the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office.
CJ LaFrance was 9 years old last summer when he and his relatives were special guests at a Syracuse University football practice, where he met with players and coaches. After the visit, the boy’s uncle said CJ’s diagnosis had recently been upgraded to Stage 3 and had his lymph nodes removed.
“He has not been getting better,” CJ’s uncle, Justin Roe, said at the time, Syracuse.com reports.
Roe said CJ and his family had a special connection with a team official who survived two cancer diagnoses.