NORTH SCITUATE, RI (WLNE) — A woman from Woonsocket did the unthinkable after she scammed family, friends, and people who were anxious to help her because they all thought she had cancer.
35-year-old Alicia Pierini went as far as shaving her head to create the appearance of someone battling cancer.
Pierini convinced her own boyfriend she had brain cancer so he set up a GoFundMe page for her.
Between the page and personal donations, Pierini ended up collecting nearly $30,000 and Rhode Island State Police say she made the whole thing up.
It was a desperate plea on Facebook from the mother of Pierini. Her daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer and needed $30,000 out of pocket for treatment.
Pierini got that story from her daughter, and as we now know, it was all made up.
“She told us she could have months to live if she didn’t get the surgery,” said Pierini’s neighbor, Amanda Benonisen.
The sob story prompted Pierini’s then boyfriend to launch a GoFundMe page and donations started pouring in.
“She admitted to providing false information to friends and family and she felt embarrassed so she continued with the charade,” said Captain Gerald McKinney; Rhode Island State Police.
The “tragic” tale started to unravel for Pierini after State Police received an anonymous tip questioning the diagnosis.
When they started calling area hospitals, they quickly found holes in her story.
“They had no patients by that name,” said Captain McKinney.
While the investigation was going on, Pierini cashed in, and between the GoFundMe page and personal donations, she racked up $28,000.
“A lot of the funds were being spent on personal trips,” said Captain McKinney.
To keep up the ruse, Pierini went to great lengths going so far as to shaving her head.
“To add to the appearance of having cancer or going through cancer treatment,” said Captain McKinney.
State Police finally called her in for questioning and they say she confessed to the scam.
ABC6 News attempted to speak with Pierini at her Woonsocket home, but she had no comment.
GoFundMe is award of this scam. In fact, they say everyone who donated through the online campaign will get their money back.
It’s important to remember that 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. In the small handful of cases where misuse occurs, GoFundMe takes action to resolve the issue. In this case, all GoFundMe donors have been refunded.
If you made a personal donation to Pierini, you can contact the State Police Financial Crimes Unit at 401-444-1201.