A joint investigation between the Alabama Attorney General’s Office and the FBI has come to a close. According to the AJC, a 37-year-old woman lied to her family about being a terminal cancer patient and pillaged money from them and others through two GoFundMe accounts — which amounted to $38,000 — to assist with her medical bills.
Authorities charged Jennifer Flynn Cataldo with “two counts of first-degree theft by deception” the site reports. The inquiry began April 13 after Cataldo’s father reached out to investigative reporter Josh Moon to figure out why his daughter’s $17 million legal settlement was slow to become tangible. The settlement was allegedly a result of political corruption at the hands of then-Gov. Robert Bentley and then-Attorney General Luther Strange. But a further probe determined that was also a lie.
In a published recollection, Moon stated that after interviewing Cataldo’s attorney and family friend on the alleged lawsuit settlement, the lawyer was completely unaware of their client’s scheme. Moon wrote that Cataldo “fooled an entire community, along with her parents and closest friends, into believing she was stricken with terminal cancer” for almost seven years and that she was a recipient of that $17 million lawsuit.
During a previous phone interview with Cataldo, Moon said that she also told him how she was diagnosed with cancer. “Dirty instruments were used to perform a biopsy on me and from that I contracted sepsis in my blood,” Cataldo said. “The sepsis later turned into Cancer. Now, I have three tumors in my brain and 12 tumors in my abdomen. I lost a kidney and the other, the doctor said, is filled with Cancer. I’m on dialysis.”
“I can’t understand why she would’ve done it,” Robert Flynn, Cataldo’s father, said. “I just don’t know what would drive someone to do something like that. And I don’t know how she could keep us fooled for so long.” Flynn said he and his wife have shelled out nearly half-a-million dollars to keep up with their daughter’s medical bills.
Cataldo is currently being held on a $100,000 bond at Shelby County Jail.
GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne issued a statement to VIBE reassuring their users that they’re protected in cases such as Jennifer Flynn Cataldo’s and will receive their money back.
“First, our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, it’s important to remember that misuse is extremely rare on our platform. Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. With that said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others’ generosity. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue. The user has been banned, and we are working with law enforcement officials to make sure donors get their money back.”