Australian woman 'who faked cancer for cash' is charged

Ms Wieland was granted bail after appearing at Townsville Magistrates Court in Queensland. Courtesy: BBC

A woman in Australia has been charged for allegedly gaining A$55,000 ($39,000; £30,000) from a fundraising site after faking a cancer diagnosis.

Lucy Wieland, 27, used social media to document a fraudulent journey through ovarian cancer treatment, a court in Townsville, Queensland, was told.

Ms Wieland set up a GoFundMe account to appeal for financial help in a breach of public trust, police said.

She was arrested after a tip-off from a member of the public, they added.

Images posted to her Instagram account earlier this year include photos of Ms Wieland with what appears to be medical equipment such as oxygen masks and walking aids.

Others appear to show her receiving treatment through intravenous medication or having her hair removed alongside captions documenting her feelings.

“Exhaustion is becoming an issue,” reads one post. “As always I’m so grateful for everyone’s support,” says another.

It is not clear whether her partner, who appears in some of her pictures, was aware of the alleged fraud, or whether Ms Wieland is suffering from other medical conditions.

Queensland Police Detective Inspector Chris Lawson told reporters outside the court on Thursday that the case was “disheartening”.

“The real victims here are the people from the community that have heard the stories, have tried to assist,” he said.

He said suspicions were raised after members of the public “identified some problems with the story”, which led to an investigation, ABC News reported.

Ms Wieland was granted bail but ordered to surrender her passport. She is due to appear in court again in December, ABC added.

GoFundMe later said in a statement that it was assisting with the investigation.

“In this case, the campaign was reported to our team, the user was banned, and all donors will be refunded,” the statement added.