Madison Russo scammed at least $37,303 from donors who were under the impression that she had cancer. Iowa police arrested the 19-year-old on Jan. 23 after an investigation uncovered that she lied about having acute lymphoblastic leukemia, stage 2 pancreatic cancer, and a football-sized tumor wrapped around her spine.
@bobbysmurdyyy #maddierusso #maddierussofakecancer ♬ original sound – Bobby
According to WABI5, authorities held Russo at Scott County Jail on a cash-only $10,000 bond. However, a man named Tom Bouland bailed her out, per WQAD8. Russo has been charged with first-degree theft by means of deception. If she’s convicted, she faces a maximum of 10 years.
Lou Frillman, who donated $500 to Russo’s fraudulent ‘Fight Against Pancreatic Cancer’ GoFundMe fundraiser, spoke to WQAD8 after he received a refund.
Her story was something that would gain empathy,” donor Lou Frillman said. “My thinking is say a prayer for this young kid because she’s gonna have a lot of terrible consequences as the result of this. Lou added, “It’s not enough money to spend years wishing you had done something different.”
The refund came from the fundraising platform, which released a statement following Russo’s lie-come-to-light. Russo’s fundraiser was reportedly removed by Bouland r, who was listed as its organizer. It’s unclear if Bouland is also facing charges or what his relationship with Russo is.
“GoFundMe has a zero-tolerance policy for misuse of our platform and cooperates with law enforcement investigations of those accused of wrongdoing. GoFundMe’s Giving Guarantee offers donors a full refund in the rare case when something isn’t right,” Communications Associate Nathalie Granda said.
Watch Frillman’s full interview below:
How Police Uncovered Madison Russo’s Fake Cancer Story Scam
After an investigation, the Eldrige Police Department revealed Madison did not have any of the illnesses she had publicly claimed.
But, she sold her fake cancer diagnosis through TikTok content and a GoFundMe fundraiser. Madison also made public appearances, telling ‘her story’ through local media coverage and speaking engagements.
She told North Scott Press in October that doctors diagnosed her with cancer in February 2022. She detailed receiving a call while in class, addressing it as “the worst day of [her] life.”
KWQC reports that Russo was a guest speaker at Ambrose University, The National Pancreatic Foundation in Chicago, and a Purple Project podcast.
Her presence on social media eventually tangled her scam when witnesses alerted police to discrepancies in her content. Officials subpoenaed her medical records and found no cancer or tumor diagnosis from any medical professionals in Iowa.
Eldrige Police also executed a search of Madison’s home and reportedly collected evidence such as medical supplies, a wig, and bank statements. Some of the medical supplies, including an IV pole, and nausea pills prescribed to a relative.
Russo is reportedly due back in court on March 2.