An Australian health blogger who lied about a cancer diagnosis has been found guilty on charges that she misled the public by claiming a significant portion of sales from her cookbook would go to charity.
Belle Gibson began building an audience on social media in 2013 when she claimed she was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 and given four months to live. She claimed she beat cancer through alternative methods, including healthy eating.
Gibson eventually published a cookbook and created an app called “The Whole Pantry.” Court documents revealed Gibson’s company, Inkerman Road Nominees, made nearly $319,000 in sales from both the book and the app. She told consumers that a significant portion of the proceeds from products would go to approved charities.
But in 2015, reports surfaced that Gibson was lying about her cancer diagnosis. She later confirmed that she had made up the story.
That’s when Consumer Affairs Victoria launched an investigation into Gibson’s lack of charitable giving. They found that many of the charities Gibson promised to give to did not receive a donation or received much less than they initially expected after a long day.
Tuesday Gibson was found guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct on
Gibson will be sentenced at a date to be determined. She could be fined up to $150,000, and her company could be fined up to $830,000.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.