BELLE GIBSON, 25, CREATES ALL NEW LOW SELLING SNAKE OIL, HOPE AND MASSIVE BRAND FRAUD
Sometimes all you need is a good story when you want to market and brand a business concept. The trouble is that the story needs to be real. If it’s fiction that tends to be fraudulent. This is a story about a story, namely a woman called Belle Gibson who was diagnosed with brain cancer back in 2013. She went on to cure herself and then released what became a widely used smartphone app dedicated to healthy eating. It was successful enough that Gibson even donated a sizable portion of the proceeds to charity. But that was the story Gibson told and it was indeed fiction, which is also known as a Big Fat Lie. Now a court has ordered her to pay a major fine for the glib fib.
25-YEAR-OLD AUSSIE KEPT LYING, ALSO NEVER DONATED ANY PROCEEDS TO CHARITY
The 25-year-old Australian created a potent health and wellness business empire by selling a false story about having brain cancer, claimed to then cure her disease with all-natural treatment and then also touted how many of the significant proceeds from her cookbook, The Whole Pantry, and app would go to charity. But all of it was a lie.
“No. None of it’s true,” Gibson finally confessed in April 2015 after questions were raised about her story. “I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do.”
GIBSON CLAIMED CANCER CURE FROM NO GLUTEN, DAIRY, CAFFEINE AND SPECIALIZED DIET ALONE
Before she shut down her Facebook and Instagram accounts, Gibson had amassed quite a following, and kept everyone up to date on how she was “curing” her cancer. How did she cure it? By cutting out gluten, dairy, and coffee, among other things.
Gibson made over $420,000 ($322,00o US) during the course of her elaborate hoax. She was found guilty back in April but the fine of $410,000 ($320,00o US) was just issued today. The court found that Gibson made just over $10,000 in donations to charities during her venture, far short of what she claimed.
“MIRACLE” WOMAN FRAUD CONSULTED ON NEW APPLE WATCH, INCLUDED IN MARKETING
Previously magazines had hailed her diet as a miracle and they touted her award-winning app as essential to a healthy lifestyle. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Gibson even flew to the US to help work on the Apple Watch before it was released.
“She’s fun and fearless ‘cos: she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, but instead of giving in, it became the impetus for her dedication to health and wellbeing,” Cosmopolitan magazine’s Australian edition wrote about Gibson back in 2014. “Oh, and her app was named runner-up for the Best iPhone App of 2013 by Apple. Not bad, hey?”
2ND BEST IPHONE APP OF 2013 QUIETLY PULLED FROM APP STORE, APPLE PROMOTIONS
Except that it was all bullshit. And the app was quietly pulled from the App Store after it was revealed in March of 2015 that she was a charlatan. Gibson’s app, The Whole Pantry, was so popular that it was even featured in online promotions for the Apple Watch.
PRETTY GHOUL PROMISED $150,000 TO YOUNG BOY WITH BRAIN TUMOR, GAVE HIM NOTHING
According to Australia’s ABC News, the fine issued to Gibson was broken down by the various infractions, which included everything from failing to donate money from the proceeds of her wellness app, to her personally promising $150,000 to a young boy named Joshua with a brain tumor. She never gave Joshua the money that she pledged.
“Ms Gibson expressly compared the terrible circumstances of young Joshua to her own, asserting she had the same kind of tumor as he did; a statement which was completely false, “ the judge said in her ruling.
The fines were broken down as follows, according to ABC News:
- $90,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the sale of The Whole Pantry app, as publicly advertised
- $50,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the launch of The Whole Pantry app
- $30,000 for failing to donate proceeds from a 2014 Mothers Day event
- $90,000 for failing to donate other company profits
- $150,000 for failing to donate 100 percent of one week’s app sales to the family of Joshua Schwarz, a boy who had an inoperable brain tumor
GHOUL GIBSON DOESN’T EVEN APPEAR FOR COURT PROCEEDINGS IN PERSON, NO APOLOGY FOR FAKING CANCER, NO EXPLANATION
Gibson faced $1.1 million in fines, but has been ordered to pay just $420,000 because the court found that there’s no sense in issuing such a large sum if she has no ability to pay it. She didn’t even show up for the court proceedings.
“She has chosen not to explain her conduct. She has chosen not to apologize for it,” the judge said this morning. “It appears she has put her own interests before those of anyone else.”
After the ruling, the prosecutors in the case and public health advocates warned the public that there are a lot of scams out there when it comes to health and wellness. But Gibson was certainly a special case.
“Our advice is to be wary of anyone who encourages you to eliminate many types of food or whole food groups from your diet,” head of the local Cancer Council, Todd Harper, told ABC News. “Always seek information from reputable sources and consult your doctor or dietitian first.”