Mother Fakes Son's Cancer In Money Making Scam

At some point you've probably received a emailed chain letter about a non-existent sick child (Snopes has a whole section devoted to them), but one mom took things a step further by actually making it look like her son had cancer in an effort to make money.

According to the Associated Press, Carol Schnuphase of Michigan pled guilty last month to second-degree child abuse and acting under false pretenses after telling people her 12-year-old son had leukemia and collecting thousands in charity donations.

Schnuphase's lawyer said her behavior was out of character, and noted that her husband had recently died and she lost her job, but that still doesn't explain her elaborate scheme. She collected thousands of dollars from people who believed they were paying for her son's chemotherapy, including individuals, schools, and church groups. But in addition to lying to strangers, she told her family and the boy that he had cancer. "She shaved his head. She shaved his eyebrows. She told him he was dying," said one prosecutor.

She's also accused of giving the boy opiate-based pills, which she crushed into his apple sauce, to make him look ill. Schnuphase denies this, but the doctors found the boy was going through opiate withdrawal (but was cancer-free).

A judge called her actions "beyond the realm of comprehension" and sentenced her to a year in jail. Her aunt said the family wanted her to serve five years in prison, and a cousin added, "Her entire family has abandoned her, because she's proven herself to not be worth associating with."

The case fits the description of Münchausen by proxy, in which an adult caregiver fabricates a child's illness, but the term wasn't mentioned in the case. Whatever her motive was, Schnuphase wound up losing both the money and her family. She's been ordered to pay more than $10,000 in restitution to those who made donations, and the state is trying to terminate her parental rights.

Jail Time For Woman Accused Of Faking Son's Cancer [MSNBC]