The scheme was allegedly so elaborate that Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates had convinced her own sister that she was sick
A Pennsylvania beauty queen has been accused of faking cancer in order to bilk sympathetic donors out of thousands of dollars.
Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, 23, was jailed Tuesday after being arraigned on charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property, CBS News reports.
Police allege that Weaver-Gates first convinced everyone in her life, including her own sister, that she had been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in March 2013, according to CNN.
Since then, she allegedly kept up the ruse by having relatives drive her to the hospital for cancer treatments. She hung out in one part of the hospital while her family members waited for her in the lobby for hours, CNN reports. Weaver-Gates even went so far as to shave her head, police say.
For two years, she took part in fundraisers raising money on her behalf. Most recently, the Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International pageant winner raised $14,000 in donations during a bingo benefit in April of this year, police say.
Authorities were alerted to the scheme by an anonymous tipster. When investigators looked into the case, they discovered no evidence that Weaver-Gates was ever under the care of any doctor for cancer.
She was arrested and jailed earlier this week. Police are asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim of Weaver-Gates to come forward.
In a statement, Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International said that Weaver-Gates has been stripped of her crown and sash, adding that they too were duped.
“We were also led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease and stood by her as she struggled being a beauty queen and a cancer patient,” the statement reads.
“When you deceive the public and take people’s money that is under the pretense of fraud, we will not tolerate those actions.”
Weaver-Gates is being held on $150,000 bail. She has not yet entered a plea to the charges and is due in court on Aug. 19.
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