Madison Marie Russo, a 19-year-old from Iowa, utilized her cunning to swindle hundreds of people out of nearly forty thousand dollars. She allegedly claimed to have pancreatic cancer and that she had an American football-sized tumor on her spine for which she needed money for treatment or else face imminent death at such a young age. Her deceitful act has led many individuals across the country to feel betrayed and taken advantage of by this individual’s malicious antics.

On January 23, 2023, Russo was taken into custody when medical experts confirmed her deception of a stage two cancer diagnosis. There were numerous inaccuracies in the cords and tubes from her fraudulent TikTok videos that turned out to be highly profitable for this teenage scammer.

Russo has been accused of theft by deception and may face a sentence of up to ten years in an Iowa correctional facility for women. She allegedly pretended to have severe pancreatic cancer as well as “lymphoblastic leukemia” in order to carry out her scheme. She maintained that a “football-sized” tumor had grown in her lower back along the base of her spine.

When law enforcement stepped in, they demanded medical histories from the cancer facilities where Russo allegedly received treatment; however, it was soon revealed that she had never been a patient there. In actuality, Russo had stolen images from other cancer sufferers’ social media pages and used them falsely to make people believe she was struggling with two types of cancer simultaneously.

On the day of her arrest, Russo was granted conditional freedom by way of just a $10,000 bail payment. Despite stealing more than $37,000 from 439 generous victims hoping to help the cancer-ridden teen in her fight for survival, she left jail as an unscathed woman.

After the police were made aware of Russo’s deceitful methods, they issued a search warrant for her Bettendorf apartment. Upon searching through the property, it became evident that she had been scamming all of her kind GoFundMe donors. Her abode revealed plenty of evidence to support this claim – there was a paper bag filled with medical supplies and an IV pole; additionally, several wigs lay scattered around and even prescription nausea medication prescribed under one of her relatives’ names was found!

Russo’s health journey was initiated in February 2022, when she was informed that she had cancer while studying at St. Ambrose University.

“It was early in the morning, and I had been anxiously awaiting these test results,” Russo said. “My phone rang, and it said, ‘Iowa City Oncology.’ I stepped out of the classroom and took the call. I was terrified, and I definitely still am. I was in shock. I didn’t think it could be true. I’m so young, and I wondered how this could happen. I went through all the emotions, and I was pretty numb.”

When she was given the prognosis, medical professionals informed her that there was only an eleven percent chance of being alive for five years.

“I remember hanging up the phone, and I was a mess,” she stated. “I was literally bawling, but somehow I ended up getting the courage to wipe away my tears and went back into class, which now when I think about it, was pretty crazy.”

Is this alleged fraudster deserving of a decade-long prison sentence?