FARIBAULT, Minn. (KMSP) - A Faribault man has been charged with theft by swindle after he reportedly faked having terminal cancer to raise more than $6,000 on Go Fund Me.
On May 24, Faribault police received a report of possible theft by fraud wherein 37-year-old Jeremiah Jon Smith claimed to have stage four terminal cancer. According to the criminal complaint, he claimed he had only 18-24 months to live after he was diagnosed in October.
A month later, Smith claimed he only had six months to live. He also admitted that he went to two or three doctor appointments, but refused to let his wife go with him.
A Go Fund Me fundraiser was created for Smith, and numerous people donated more than $6,800 total.
According to the complaint, Smith quit his job about a month after his claimed “diagnosis.” He changed his story about how he was told about his cancer, saying once it was via phone and another time that a nurse told him.
Smith also said he went to Olmsted Medical Center and was on a trial medication. Police called the medical center and discovered Smith “does not participate in trial medications.”
On Feb. 6, a dart tournament, beer bust and silent were held for Smith in Spring Lake Park, Minn. Another benefit was held in Northfield on Feb. 20. The events raised a total of $15,600 with $4,000 used for outstanding bills. Smith said the rest of the money “went towards a ‘Clash of Clans’ video game, drinking, dart tournaments and marijuana.”
Smith’s wife tried to obtain medical records, but was denied by the clinic. According to the complaint, she reported she never saw a medical bill or record regarding his cancer treatment. She also tried to get assistance from county Social Services, which would allow her to view Smith’s medical records, but Smith refused to sign the paperwork.
Back in June, police confronted Smith, who said he would send his medical records to police. Police never received the records.
Later that month, detectives from Faribault and Northfield talked to Smith, who said he would try to send the records after an upcoming doctor’s appointment.
On June 30, Smith’s wife told a Faribault detective that Smith was sitting at a truck stop and “believed every car there was looking for him.” Smith also called the Sheriff’s office asking why they were looking for him, and he refused to leave the truck stop.
Authorities visited Smith at his home the next day, and he insisted he had cancer, saying it started in his colon and progressed to his kidneys and bladder.
In November, police were granted a search warrant for Smith’s medical records which were “devoid of any cancer diagnosis.”
Police also spoke with Smith’s doctor who said he remembered Smith and that he treated him for Attention Deficit Disorder and insomnia. He also stated that Smith was seen by a surgeon for “small lipomas inside the abdominal walls,” but that they weren’t cancerous.
Smith’s wife said they received $17,000 from benefits and more than $6,000 online. Smith faces up to 10 years in prison or a $20,000 fine, or both.