A Washington Township, New Jersey, man is accused of faking a brain tumor to solicit online donations.
The Pascack Valley Daily Voice reported that Hillsdale Police charged Joseph O’Connell, 29, with theft by deception for allegedly receiving donations for a cancerous brain tumor that he never had. Police caught wind of the deplorable scheme earlier this month after a tipster questioned whether O’Connell was actually sick.
Detective Bill Diedtrich said Friday that investigators determined that O’Connell “was not ill and was merely soliciting donations and food for his own personal use.”
O’Connell—who is unemployed—allegedly created an online post on that he was fighting cancer. From there, his story was posted on MealTrain.com, a site that allows people to donate money to someone who’s given birth, has an illness, or underwent surgery, according to NJ.com.
“Somebody set up an online donation site to obtain meals for him,” Diedtrich explained to WCBS. “And through that site, he was also given gift cards for food establishments, as well as some cash donations.”
The 29-year-old was arrested Thursday. Diedtrich said they believe that he swindled $200 to $500 in donations. However, the number could increase as authorities conduct their investigation, he noted.
O’Connell was given a summons and released from custody. He is scheduled to appear in court on November 1.
This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone who believes that they’ve made a donation to O’Connell is instructed to call Hillsdale Police Detective Sergeant Adam Hampton at 201-497-1537 or email him at AHampton@hillsdalepolice.com.
[Featured Image: Hillsdale Police Department]