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Wednesday
May092018

Couple lied about cancer child in GoFundMe scam, police says

Cayuga County Sheriff's Office/Facebook(NEW YORK) -- An upstate New York couple was arrested after a four-month police investigation revealed they allegedly duped kindhearted people out of thousands of dollars by creating a GoFundMe page asking for donations to help pay medical bills for a child they falsely claimed had cancer, officials said.

Martin and Jolene LaFrance, both 35, of Port Byron, New York, were arrested on felony fraud charges and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Cayuga County Sheriff David Gould.

Gould said the couple created a GoFundMe page late last year, allegedly claiming their child had cancer.

"As a result of this online solicitation, they did receive several thousand dollars in donations," Gould said in a statement. "The investigation revealed conclusively that the child was never diagnosed with cancer or any other medical condition that was alleged in the GoFundMe solicitation."

Police launched a four-month investigation after getting complaints, Gould said.

The couple has been banned from the platform for violating "GoFundMe's terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund," GoFundMe said in a statement released Tuesday.

"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. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation."

Martin and Jolene LaFrance are scheduled to be arraigned on May 16 in Montezuma. Efforts by ABC News to reach their attorney were not successful.

The investigation is ongoing, Gould said.

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