BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — This is sick.
A woman who falsely claimed she was battling with cancer in order to bilk her friends and family out of cash has been hit with federal fraud charges.
Jennifer Flynn Cataldo, 37, of Sterrett, Alabama, pretended she was terminally ill and convinced pals to give her $1000,000, all of which she put in her pocket, prosecutors said.
“Sadly, crimes like this make good people think twice before they are willing to be charitable,” FBI Special Agent Roger Stanton said. “It is hard to comprehend how anyone could sink so low as to claim to have cancer just to fuel their greed.”
Federal authorities say that between 2014 and 2017, Cataldo told her friends and family that she was dying from cancer and allegedly solicited contributions from people she knew to fund her lifestyle.
For example, in January 2016, Cataldo allegedly launched a GoFundMe campaign dubbed “Mom had Terminal Cancer Disney Trip,” with the goal of raising $4,000 to take her daughter to Disney World before she died.
The campaign ended up raising more than $10,000, prosecutors said.
Then in September 2016, a friend who believed Cataldo was dying created a second GoFundMe page titled, “Jenny Flynn Cataldo Medical Care,” to raise $20,000. It ultimately took in $25,000.
In both cases, prosecutors say Cataldo transferred the cash from the GoFundMe accounts into her personal bank account.
Cataldo, who was hit with state charges in Alabama earlier this month, faces up to 20 years on each of several counts of wire fraud she now faces in federal court and up to 30 years on bank fraud charges.
GoFundMe officials have said they are working to recover the cash and return it to anyone who donated to Cataldo.