Friends and strangers had rallied behind Mandy Hargraves, 34, after she told them she’d been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the stomach, lymph nodes, bloodstream and heart.
Under the hashtag #MandyStrong, the Georgia community raised money for medical expenses; shirts were even sold with ‘Mandy Strong’ emblazoned on the front and ‘Tougher Than Cancer Together’ on the back.
Hargraves, 34, allegedly kept the lie alive by using her children as the reason she wouldn’t let cancer beat her.
“I refuse to throw in the towel, I don’t have that in me,” she said.
“I have two beautiful children who need me and I am determined to fight for my life for their sake.”
Just days after being ‘diagnosed’, Hargraves posted that her daughter, wearing an oversized doctor’s coat, announced she would eradicate the cancer herself.
She wrote: “Mama, I want to be your hero. I want to fix your heart and take all of your sickness and pain away”.
But when her sickness “did not add up”, suspicious supporters, and Hargrave’s estranged husband, called in the cops to investigate.
When police questioned her about the holes in her cancer tale, Hargrave’s online soliciting suddenly stopped.
Ex-cop Leanne Bennett, one of Hargraves’ closest cohorts, now wishes she’d had nothing to do with her former friend.
She asked supporters for forgiveness and writes that while money is a major factor in this sick scheme, the children are the ones who suffer long-term.
“Her children will be affected by this for the rest of their lives, and all the kids who thought she was dying. Her child told all of her friends who still don’t understand how or why anyone would lie about dying.”
Hargraves faces up to a year in prison and a US$1000 fine.