FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (KTHV) – According to police, a Florida couple faked their 13-year-old’s terminal illness, tricking community members and the child himself into believing he was dying as part of a scheme to raise money.
Anyone who donated money to the couple’s GoFundMe will get a refund. GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne released a statement saying the company also has banned 34-year-old Ginny Long and 47-year-old Robert Long from the crowdfunding site.
Okaloosa County Sheriff's officials say the Longs were arrested Thursday on one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud.
Detectives say the Longs set up a T-shirt fundraiser at the boy's school and shared the bogus cancer diagnosis on Facebook accounts. Sheriff's officials didn't say how much money they raised through GoFundMe.
CBS News affiliate WNCN-TV reports the boy spent eight months believing he was dying, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office. But according to medical records, he didn't have any brain tumors.
They began investigating when school resource officers suspected the boy was being exploited.
Jail records didn't list attorneys for the couple.