BURLINGTON, Ontario — An Ontario woman has been charged with fraud after police say she allegedly faked a rare neurological disease to raise over $100,000 in donations.
Police say Cynthia Lynn Smith claimed to be suffering from Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy and acted out many of its symptoms.
They say her family and friends helped the Burlington, Ont., resident start a charity to raise money for experimental medicines in the U.S. to deal with the illness.
An online “GoFundMe” page was started in Smith’s name in November 2014 and, in combination with other local donations, it raised over $100,000.
Halton Regional Police began investigating Smith in late March after a local reporter raised concerns about the validity of her charity.
Investigators then determined that Smith had never been diagnosed or treated for the illness she claimed to be suffering from.
Smith has been arrested and charged with defrauding the public over $5,000.
“Smith acted on her own creating this deception, using the unsuspecting assistance of her family and friends and the generosity of the public,” said Det.-Sgt. Troy Izlakar.