Woman accused of faking cancer, receiving donations

WOONSOCKET, RI — A Rhode Island woman was arrested for allegedly receiving money through a GoFundMe to help with her fake cancer diagnosis.

In May of 2016, the financial crimes unit began investigating a report that a woman was asking for money under false pretenses. Their investigation revealed that 35-year-old Alicia Pierini had told her friends and family she had brain cancer, and one of her friends started a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses.

Rhode Island State Police said that many contributed to the GoFundMe or to Pierini directly, in total about $28,000.

However, as time went on, some became suspicious.

Detectives said they confirmed she had never been a patient at any of the cancer treatment facilities or doctors she said she was attending.

The Woonsocket resident was charged with obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500 and access to computer for fraudulent purposes.

She was arraigned and released on $40,000 personal recognizance.

GoFundMe will be reimbursing the individuals who donated directly to the account.

"on the record statement from GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne:

"It’s important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue. In this case, all GoFundMe donors have been refunded," said GoFundMe in a statement.

If you believe you were a victim in this case, Rhode Island Police are asking you to call the Financial Crimes Unit at 401-444-1201.