Gilroy woman charged with wire fraud for cancer treatment donation scam

A criminal complaint was filed Monday charging a Gilroy woman with wire fraud to secure donations from individuals for cancer treatments she never needed or received, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Between October 2012 and February 2016, Amanda Riley falsely claimed to have Hodgkin's lymphoma and that she was receiving treatments at various hospitals like Kaiser Permanente, City of Hope National Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Columbia University Hospital, and UCSF Medical Center, according to the complaint.

She also started her own blog that she shared on different social media platforms in order to solicit donations for her medical expenses. On her blog, Riley started an online donation page in 2013. She also posted pictures depicting her receiving cancer treatment, her medical medicines, gifts from supporters, and even friends and family wearing "Team Amanda" bracelets she was gifted.

Riley also claimed that she had to travel to New York to receive treatment and asked supporters to help her cover travel costs. To conceal her scheme, she altered a doctor's note to say that she was "in treatment for cancer" in April 2016. Riley's messaging was very effective. From her online support page alone, she raised 447 donations totaling to $60,272.43 and after paying fees pocketed $58,256.86 between Sept. 13, 2013, and March 15, 2016, according to the complaint.

Friends, family, and members of her church also donated in the form of checks. Others who came across Riley's campaign also organized their own fundraisers on her behalf like a Facebook challenge; a CrossFit fundraiser; a Christmas ornament sale fundraiser; a quilt raffle; a Chili's Grill & Bar fundraiser; and the auction on eBay of various items, including an electric guitar autographed by American country music artists such as John Michael Montgomery and LeAnn Rimes, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Riley is scheduled to appear in court before Judge Susan van Keulen on Aug. 27. If convicted, Riley faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain from her plot.