A former friend of a fraudster who conned the public out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations after faking cancer has revealed how she was tricked by her ‘convincing’ behaviour.
Chanelle McAuliffe, from Melbourne, spoke to This Morning about Belle Gibson, revealing she once confronted her friend over the ‘fake cancer’ after realising she had no symptoms
Belle, now 32, once claimed she had terminal brain cancer which was cured by simply eating healthy food – but it was later discovered she never had the disease.
Speaking to hosts Rylan Clark and Josie Gibson, Chanelle said the pair first met when she was working as a journalist and was assigned a story on Belle. After they discovered they had mutual friends, ‘a friendship formed’.
‘Belle was very convincing in her conviction of being sick and having an illness… she would take on other people’s symptoms.
Chanelle McAuliffe (pictured), who appeared on This Morning via video link from Melbourne, Australia, shared exclusive details about the scandal that engulfed her former friend
‘She would meet other people that had cancer and take on their symptoms and kind of use them as her own’.
Chanelle discovered things weren’t adding up.
She noticed that her friend had begun drinking ‘excessive’ amounts of alcohol and visiting tanning parlours.
‘Skin cancer is a really big issue here in Australia’ said Chanelle.
‘Those things didn’t really make sense to me. I had a family friend who passed away of cancer and I had witnessed their journey with it.
‘So I was kind of aware of someone who is actually very sick of cancer and what that looks like.
‘They get to the point where they are very frail and bedridden and Belle never presented those kind of symptoms’.
But Belle looked the opposite, and was in fact ‘active’, ‘well’ and ‘thriving’.
Speaking to hosts Rylan Clark and Josie Gibson , Chanelle said the pair first met when she was working as a journalist and was assigned a story on Belle. After they discovered they had mutual friends, ‘a friendship formed’
Belle Gibson (pictured), now 32, once claimed she had terminal brain cancer which was cured by simply eating healthy food – but it was later discovered she never had the disease
It wasn’t long before the deals began to roll in for Belle. After launching an app full of recipes as well as a book deal, she was reportedly worth £213,500 ($420,000 AUD)
It struck the now business advisor odd that Belle even had the strength to run a ‘business empire’.
Belle’s story of courage fast racked up a legion of fans and admirers around the world, as well as hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, but Chanelle struggled to see the truth.
Belle Gibson’s fake cancer saga: How it happened
October 1991: Belle Gibson is born
May 2009: Gibson claims to have undergone multiple operations on her heart and also momentarily died on the operating table
July 2009: Gibson claims that a doctor diagnosed her with terminal brain cancer and that she only had four months to live.
Early 2013: She launches an Instagram account (@healing_belle) and accompanying website sharing healthy, wholefood recipes.
Mid 2013: Gibson releases an app of her recipes
Mid-2014: Gibson begins working with Apple on the development of an apple watch specific platform for the Whole Food Pantry
November 12, 2014: Cosmopolitan honours Gibson with a Fun, Fearless, Female award in the social media category.
March 8, 2015: The Age newspaper releases an investigation into Gibson’s claims of donating proceeds to charity.
April 2015: Women’s Weekly publishes an interview with Gibson, where she admits ‘none of it’s true’.
May 6, 2015: Victoria’s consumer watchdog launches legal proceedings against Gibson’s false claims of defeating cancer by way of a wholefood diet
June 2015: Gibson gives a TV interview with Nine’s Tara Brown, program where she claims ‘I’m not trying to get away with anything’
September 2017: Gibson is fined $410,000 by the Federal Court for her false claims of charitable donations
The judge describes her as having a ‘relentless obsession with herself and what serves her best interests’
June 2019: Almost two years after she was ordered to pay the fine, Gibson tells the court: ‘I’m not in a position to pay a $410,000 fine at this stage’
December 2019: Consumer Affairs Victoria quietly issues a warrant ‘of seizure or sale’ against Gibson
January 22, 2020: Sheriff executes a ‘seize and sell’ warrant on Gibson’s Northcote home, following inquiries from Daily Mail Australia
‘I went over to her house and essentially confronted her’ Chanelle recalled.
‘I said to her “do you have cancer? Can you provide any scans, any medical evidence that shows you have cancer?”
‘She stated that she didn’t like to keep that kind of documentation in her home – and she had just announced that her brain cancer had now spread into her body, to her liver, her spleen, her uterus.
‘It was now stage four so it was very grave. It was essentially a death sentence’.
But Chanelle demanded to know where her friend had received her diagnosis, to which Belle responded it came from a home doctor out in the suburbs.
When Chanelle asked for the doctor’s name, Belle replied: ‘Dr Phil’.
‘It was quite comical’ remarked Chanelle.
‘The more she spoke, it just kind of confirmed my suspicions. There was nothing she could come to the table with to make me believe that she in fact had cancer’.
The wool had finally been pulled from over Chanelle’s eyes and she intended to do something about it.
She reported Belle’s deception to police and other journalists.
In 2013, Belle Gibson launched the @healing_belle Instagram account where she gained a large following through sharing so-called ‘healing’ food recipes.
She claimed that her lifestyle and healthy eating plan had ‘cured’ her inoperable brain cancer, which she had been diagnosed with at the age of 20 and given just months to live.
Belle claimed she had undergone traditional cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy before abandoning modern medicine to follow a programme of clean eating instead.
Before long the deals began to roll in, with Gibson launching an app full of recipes as well as a book deal, reportedly worth £213,500 ($420,000 AUD).
Describing her plant-based diet in her book, she said: ‘I was empowering myself to save my own life through nutrition, patience, determination, and love.’
However, in 2014, the Melbourne-based personality claimed that despite her new wellness-focused lifestyle, her cancer had returned, and this time it had spread. While many fans were devastated by the news, suspicions were soon raised about the money she claimed to have donated to various charities from the proceeds of her book.
Following an investigation by Fairfax Media, it was discovered that none of the charities Belle had named had received a penny from her.
The influencer’s story quickly began to unravel and in April 2015, she was forced to admit she had lied.
In an interview with Australia Women’s Weekly, she said: ‘No… None of it’s true,’ before adding she hoped people would forgive her and see that she was only ‘human’.
Two years after her admission, Belle was fined around £215,000 ($410,000 AUD) after being found guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct.
The former wellness blogger has now adopted the ‘Oromo’ ethnic group in Melbourne, even taking to wearing a headscarf and naming herself ‘Sabontu’.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk