A Minnesota Vikings fan group who raised thousands of dollars for a Florida woman with brain cancer now believe they may have fallen for a hoax.
Margaret Jean Brezina contacted the Vikings super fan group "Viking World Order" in 2014 claiming to have terminal brain cancer, KMSP reports.
The group ended up raising over $20,000 through GoFundMe for the woman and gave her front-row seats for a Minnesota Vikings football game.
But when David Garza, vice-president of Viking World Order, asked Brezina for proof of her condition, she appeared to text him a brain scan image she found off Google.
“I didn't want to say this person is faking, but I wish I would have,” Garza told KMSP.
It was later revealed Brezina told the same cancer story to another group and has a criminal record of both theft and fraud. She also has reportedly used over half a dozen aliases over the years.
It was Melinda Mossberg, Brezina's former friend, who ended up revealing the truth.
“She doesn't have a job, she has no income,” Mossberg said, adding that she found the lie shocking.
”How do you prove someone doesn't have cancer?" she said. "And who wants to be the villain who says she doesn't have cancer."
It's unclear whether the Vikings World Order group will press charges against Brezina or attempt to get their money back.
The group did note that they will continue their charitable ways but make sure to do more due diligence in the future.
This is not the first time somebody has scammed people by pretending they have cancer.
A New Zealand woman convinced many around the country she was dying of cancer when she did not have the illness, according to The Courier. She reportedly went so far as to shave her head and pluck her eyebrows.
She was later diagnosed with factitious disorder, a rare psychological illness where a healthy person makes up an illness to get sympathy.
Most of the time those with the disorder do not get caught publicly, according to Ian Goodwin, a forensic psychiatrist in New Zealand
"It's a hard one to research because these people are lying," Goodwin told The Courier. "Most of the people do have some degree of serious ... personality issues."
"The core of it is that the person assumes the social role and all the benefits that go with being a sick person," he added. "What they're after is sympathy and social identity, wanting to be seen ... [under the social label that] cancer survivors are wonderfully courageous people.
"Generally when you are sick, people cut you quite a lot of slack. People treat you kindly."