A “wellness blogger” who had reportedly claimed she had cured her own brain cancer, has been fined over AUS$410,000 for misleading her followers. Why? Because she didn’t ever have cancer in the first place
Belle Gibson started blogging in 2013, and launched an app called The Whole Pantry – as well as a book with the same title.
More than 200,000 people downloaded her app within the first month of launch. Wow, that’s awesome!
The blogger also began making a big impact on social media, with a large presence on Instagram and Facebook.
On all of her pages, she made claims about her health, including that she had brain cancer and had “cured” it herself with natural medicine and “gerson therapy”, an “alternative” therapy which claims (falsely) to be able to cure cancer and degenerative diseases through dietary changes alone.
When her book was published, however, people started to notice inconsistencies in her story.
In the preface of the book, she said she had been “stable for two years now with no growth of the cancer”, but had posted on her Facebook page that her cancer had spread to her blood, spleen, and uterus.
Then she claimed to have had heart surgery several times, and had even died on the operating table, but didn’t have any scars. So, soon the media questioned her claims, leading to her own admission to Australia Woman’s Weekly that she has never had cancer at all.
“None of it’s true,” she admitted.
Gibson apparently claimed that she had cured her cancer through dietary changes and natural healing.
Lets hope that nobody followed her “path”!
The Melbourne federal court has now fined the woman, for misleading her readers in another way. She had claimed she was going to donate proceeds from her app to charity, however, these donations never took place either.
Among fines imposed, totaling AUS$410,000, she has to pay $150,000 for failing to donate one week’s app sales to the family of a boy who had an inoperable brain tumor.
Belle has been charged on five separate contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law Act, all relating to her promises to donate to charity, which never materialized.
She wasn’t in court to hear the judgment against her this week, but she acknowledged the judgment via email, the Guardian reports.
In the ruling, Judge Mortimer asked whether it was possible to donate some or all of the funds to the charities Gibson had promised money to.
“In that way, some good might still come for the vulnerable people, and the organizations supporting them, which were indirectly drawn into this unconscionable sequence of events.”