A mother from Denver, Sandy Nguyen, 29, received thousands of dollars in charitable donations from friends, family, and her community after she revealed that her 6-year-old son had cancer. The problem is that her child never had cancer, and she accepted funds and donations under false pretenses, according to a KUSA news report.
As a part of the scheme—that was ongoing for two years— Nguyen went so far as to convince her child that he was actually dying, and shaved his head every day before he went to school. The boy told police he thought he was about to die.
Nguyen began to tell people that her son suffered from leukemia, and told investigators that she didn’t think the boy was old enough to understand what was happening. Her defense lawyer called the whole thing a “misunderstanding.”
Her son’s school started a fundraiser, and ultimately Nguyen was given over $22,000 in cash and a trip to Disneyland. She told police that she didn’t ask for any help, but “didn’t turn it away either.”
Sharing her story on Facebook, Nguyen would post updates on her son’s illness, talk about medical procedures, and receiving care at the Children’s Hospital of Denver.
Her lie was discovered when a doctor from the Children’s Hospital of Denver’s oncology unit heard about the child’s illness but didn’t recognize the child’s name as ever being a patient.
Upon investigation, it was clear that the boy was never treated for cancer or any other major illnesses at the hospital.
Now Nguyen has been sentenced to three months in jail, and five years of probation, on one count each of charitable fraud and child abuse. A future hearing will determine custody of the boy and Nguyen’s two other children.