TikToker Madison Russo has been ordered to pay $39,000 in restitution to avoid jail time after she faked having cancer.
The 20-year-old falsely claimed to have pancreatic cancer, leukemia, and a football-sized tumor wrapped around her spine in several social media posts. She documented her “battle” on the platforms and asked people to donate to her GoFundMe page.
But in June, she pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, according to the Associated Press. As part of her 10-year suspended sentence, she has to pay $39,000 in restitution and a $1,370 fine, per the outlet. She reportedly already paid the $39,000 restitution but the money was held by the court.
When handing her the fine on Friday, Judge John Telleen reportedly said people who meet her in the future should know she has engaged in a “criminal scheme.”
“Through this scheme, you deceived your friends, your family, your community, other cancer victims, charities, and strangers who were motivated by your supposedly tragic story to donate to help support you,” the judge said according to the AP.
Russo reportedly told the court she made up her cancer story to bring her family back together.
“A lot of people have made speculation as to why I did this and how somebody who looked like they had everything together could have such a mess,” she said per the AP. “I didn’t do this for money or greed. I didn’t do this for attention. I did this as an attempt to get my family back together.”
Her situation came to light after medical professionals spotted holes in her story. Police subpoenaed her medical records and found out she never had cancer. She was arrested in January, per the AP.
In court, Russo apologized to anyone she hurt by faking her cancer story.
“I fully acknowledge what I did was wrong. And I’m incredibly sorry,” she said while crying, according to the AP. “If there was anything I could do to take it back I would. The reality is I can’t.”