A 19-year-old has been arrested and booked in Iowa for what cops say was a phony charity scam that raked in tens of thousands … all from people who believed she had cancer.
The Eldridge Police Department rang up Madison Russo on a first-degree theft charge this week, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison if convicted. She was arrested on Jan. 23, but has since bonded out … and is due back in court on March 2.
Cops allege Russo lied about 3 different diagnoses that she’d publicly been touting for at least a year … including leukemia, pancreatic cancer and a tumor “the size of a football.”
Throughout much of 2022, Russo went viral on TikTok while documenting her health journey — which the authorities are now saying was completely made-up … and which entered criminal territory after she raised upwards of $37k on GoFundMe from 439 donors.
On social media, she was often seen adorned in hospital-like paraphernalia … IV bags, tubes that ran through her nose and medical tape/gauze — suggesting she was undergoing treatment. All of that, however, was phony and just an act — so alleges Eldridge PD.
Court docs reportedly lay out what police say they found at Russo’s apartment … in addition to some of the medical supplies listed above, they allege they discovered a wig, pills for nausea in a relative’s name and more. In other words, they’re claiming these were all props.
In addition, Eldridge PD says they subpoenaed Russo’s medical records … and allege she’d never been diagnosed with cancer at any nearby hospitals. The cops say she got on their radar after people wrote in saying some of what they saw on social media seemed fishy.
Organizations that Russo had allegedly affiliated with during this time — when she was presenting herself as poster child for cancer awareness — are now distancing themselves. She hasn’t addressed the matter publicly. A TikTok account attributed to her has been scrubbed.
Image & Source Credit: tmz.com