FARIBAULT, Minn. – A Minnesota man who pretended he had cancer used thousands of dollars donated to him to buy alcohol, video games and marijuana, police say.
Jeremiah Jon Smith, 37, Faribault, Minnesota, claimed he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in October 2015 and told friends and family he had only months to live.
He quit his job about a month after the “diagnosis,” court documents said, and later changed his story regarding how he learned about his terminal cancer. At one point, Smith said he received a phone call about the diagnosis; he later said a nurse told him in person, according to KTTC.
Smith went to see the doctor but refused to let his wife go with him, police said. He rode an overwhelming wave of sympathy from the community and raised more than $6,800 through a GoFundMe page.
Two community events were also organized to raise money for Smith in February 2016. One event, which featured a dart tournament and silent auction, raised nearly $6,000 at a local restaurant. A second event raised about $9,000.
Smith spent all the money, using about $4,000 on outstanding bills. He spent the rest on drinking, dart tournaments, pot and the Clash of Clans video game, court documents said.
His story began to unravel when his wife couldn’t find a medical bill or record regarding his diagnosis. She couldn’t get her husband to sign a consent form allowing her to see his medical records.
Police learned about Smith’s possible deception in May 2016. He told investigators he would provide his medical records but never came through on that promise, court documents said.
A few months later, detectives obtained a search warrant giving them access to Smith’s medical records, which showed no cancer diagnosis even though he maintained that he had terminal cancer. They also spoke to Smith’s doctor, who said he’d examined Smith before but never diagnosed him with cancer.
Smith is charged with theft by swindle, which carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a $20,000 fine, according to KTTC.