Brighton, MI – Brighton police are investigating a woman who raised $31,000 through a GoFundMe page for cancer treatments that never happened.
The Brighton police said that the investigation was still ongoing, but they had enough evidence to say that Candace Streng’s claim that she was suffering from stage 4 breast cancer was not true, according to WJBK-TV.
GoFundMe closed Streng’s account that 399 people had donated to since April of 2017. She had raised a total of $31,645.
The fundraising platform was working with the Brighton Police Department to return all the donations, WJBK reported.
In June of 2017, Streng’s friends put on a fundraiser that raised another $6,000 to cover the cost of cancer treatments.
"We were recently informed that our 'friend' Candace lied for several years about struggling with stage four breast cancer. We let her into our homes, our families and our checkbooks. We had no prior knowledge of her deceit and are fully cooperating with the investigation. We sincerely hope Candace gets the help she so desperately needs,” her friends wrote in a statement.
Brighton police said they will be filing formal charges against Streng with the prosecutor, according to WJBK.
On Nov. 22, 2017, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus did a story profiling Streng and her battle with cancer.
“Earlier this year, Streng wasn’t sure if she’d make it to Thanksgiving. She has been fighting stage 4 breast cancer for more than three years,” the paper reported.
That article said doctors gave her good news that her tumor was shrinking.
"The doctors have stopped talking about a deadline," Streng told the newspaper.
The article said she had to write about 500 thank you notes, with more coming.
"For me, writing thank yous is a way to relive the thing I'm thanking them for," Streng said in the November article. "That makes me feel good to spend 10 minutes writing a handwritten note. ... I pick out a card for that person, think about that person and who they are. I try to make my thank yous reflect just how much joy that brings me on what could be a really bad day."
The article also stated the Brighton High School class of 2002 donated $1,063 to her GoFundMe account from their reunion money.
"Death didn't scare me, but thinking you're going to miss loved ones is the hard part," she said back in November. "I just wanted to make it to hold that baby, and now that the chemo is working, I can look forward to making it to his first birthday and see him go to kindergarten."
GoFundMe was quick to point out that fraudulent fundraisers were rare on their platform, and that donors were protected.
“Our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds donations are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back,” said GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne in a statement. “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. In this case, the user has been banned, and we are working with law enforcement officials to ensure donors are refunded,” the GoFundMe spokesman wrote.