A 13-year-old boy was allegedly tricked by his parents into believing he was going to die from brain cancer, so they could fraudulently raise money for his non-existent medical expenses.
Robert Edward Long, 47, and Ginny Irovando Long, 34, from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., were arrested and charged with one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud on Feb. 1, said Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Police said the couple set up a T-shirt fundraiser for the boy at his school last year and shared false cancer diagnosis information on Facebook. Investigators also found a GoFundMe page for the son’s funeral expenses which had raised almost $1,000, reported WEAR-TV.
According to the arrest papers, Irovando told her son that he had seven brain tumors in May 2017, WEAR-TV reported. In a Facebook post on Dec. 28, 2017, Irovando wrote that it was miracle her son had lived three days past Christmas and only God knew how much longer the boy had left, said police.
A school resource officer reported the pair to police after suspecting the child was being exploited for financial gain.
Police reviewed the boy’s medical records and found that there was no sign of brain cancer or any other illness.
According to the arrest report, the boy believed he had cancer and was going to die. When interviewed by the police, the boy said it scared him and he didn’t like to talk about it.
WEAR-TV reports that the Department of Children and Families have removed the child and his sibling from the home. They have been placed in foster care pending the outcome of the investigation.