A Gilroy, California woman has been charged with felony wire fraud after allegedly soliciting financial donations from friends, family, church members and online supporters for nonexistent cancer treatments between 2012 to 2016.
She published accounts of her “battle with cancer” on social media, claiming she had Hodgkin lymphoma, documenting her “purported illness” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and her blog, according to the complaint filed in Santa Clara County.
An IRS special agent investigating the case alleges Riley used these online platforms to begin soliciting money to help pay for her claimed medical expenses. Riley is alleged to have known that she did not have lymphoma or any other type of cancer at the time, or at any other point.
The criminal complaint alleges Riley received donated funds, but deposited them into her personal bank account and spent some of it on personal expenses. She did not spend any of the donated money to pay for medical expenses associated with Hodgkin lymphoma, investigators allege.
In 2012, Riley's social media accounts and her website showed photos of her “at hospitals ostensibly receiving cancer treatment,” as well as alleged medications and photos of gifts and references to fundraisers held for her benefit, according to the criminal complaint. She claimed to be receiving treatment at hospitals including Kaiser Permanente, City of Hope, Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, and the University of California-San Francisco. The IRS alleges she was not treated for cancer at any of those institutions.
In September 2013, she allegedly began soliciting financial donations online “to assist with expenses associated with Riley's purported illness.” On February 8, 2014, the website said that “Amanda beat Hodgkin's Lymphoma in Spring 2013, but unfortunately, it has returned. The next year will be the battle for her life, and Amanda needs everyone's help.” The page went on to describe a treatment plan, then appealed to readers to “help minimize some their stress by reducing the financial burden of medical bills and daily living expenses. ... No donation is too small; even $5 a month can make a difference.”
Riley also allegedly received donations through checks deposited into her personal bank account, the criminal complaint says, with money coming from friends, family and members of her church. In addition, she received money from fundraisers organized through Facebook, CrossFit, a Christmas sale, a quilt raffle, eBay auctions, and a Chili's restaurant event. One auction included an electric guitar autographed by recording artists LeAnn Rimes and John Michael Montgomery.
The IRS alleges Riley received 447 donations totaling $60,272.43 through her website. She allegedly deposited $58,256.86 of that money into her personal bank account.
Riley solicited funds online from a support page called supportamanda.com. That website was later purchased by Crime Watch Daily, a true-crimes investigations television series, in order to inform potential donors about Riley's alleged scam. (When that series ended in 2018, the content continued in the blog form of this website, True Crime Daily.)
At the time of the filing, Riley was not in custody. A summons was issued for Riley's appearance before a judge for the date of August 27, 2020.