An Australian blogger who faked her brain cancer and claimed she overcame the disease by using natural remedies was fined more than $300,000 for profiting off her lies, reports said on Thursday.
The federal court in Melbourne ordered Belle Gibson, 25, to pay the $322,000 fine for breaching five Australian consumer laws, Sky News reported. Gibson was not in court, but the judge suggested the money for the fine be donated to charities the blogger had initially said she would help out.
“In that way, some good might still come for the vulnerable people, and the organizations supporting them, which were indirectly drawn into this unconscionable sequence of events,” the judge said.
Gibson claimed she was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 20 and was given four months to live before discovering the “cure” that included oxygen therapy and a gluten and refined sugar-free diet, according to Sky News. She also claimed she never resorted to conventional medicine while promoting her phone app and cookbook “The Whole Pantry” in 2013. She built an empire promoting healthy living, even amassing a huge social media following while promising to donate to charities.
However, the charities never received any money despite making hundreds of thousands of dollars from her cookbook and app. Consumer Affairs Victoria launched legal action against Gibson.
She admitted in a 2015 interview with Australian Women’s Weekly that she lied about her cancer and the cure.
“None of it’s true,” Gibson said. “I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, ‘OK, she’s human.’”
The judge during her court hearing felt no pity for Gibson, saying the so-called “blogger” only cared about her own interests while promoting her fake story.
“She sought to promote herself by comparing herself and her asserted brain cancer with [other patients],” the judge said. “Once again, it appears she has put her own interests before those of anyone else.”