Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Wednesday filed charges against a Shawnee woman who obtained funds by falsely claiming a cancer diagnosis she did not really have.
Jennifer L. Garrison, 40, allegedly claimed to have terminal stomach cancer with only three months to live. Garrison posted information to Facebook about a surgery to remove a tumor and part of her stomach. Garrison also claimed she shaved her head because chemotherapy was causing her hair to fall out. Groups collected money for Garrison’s treatments and a vacation for Garrison and her young son.
Some who knew of Garrison’s claims grew skeptical when learning Garrison began driving a new truck while not working for the past year. Garrison also claimed to have donated her hair to Locks of Love; however the organization would not accept a donation of hair which had undergone chemotherapy. During the same time Garrison claimed to have cancer, she posted pictures of herself taking part in manual labor while volunteering following the May 2013 Shawnee tornado.
While Garrison participated in relief work, she met organizers of a group called “Girlz on a Mission.” The organizers saw Garrison’s Facebook posts regarding cancer and offered to set up a fundraiser online. The fundraiser raised approximately $3,000 for Garrison. The organization sent a check for nearly half the amount to Garrison before later learning of the suspicion surrounding the cancer.
“It’s not only disturbing to think someone would fake serious medical conditions for their own financial gain, but offensive to every Oklahoma family who has truly journeyed through such a difficult time,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “Such deception is a serious crime and our office will always take steps to protect Oklahomans from such fraud. This also is another reminder for Oklahomans to do their research and make informed decisions when donating to charitable causes.”
Garrison is being charged with one count of obtaining property by trick, deception, false representation or pretense. If convicted, Garrison could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000.
The Attorney General’s Public Protection Unit protects consumers from fraudulent, unfair or deceptive business practices and can provide conciliation services to help resolve complaints against businesses. To file a consumer complaint, go online to www.ok.gov/oag, call (405) 521-2029, (918) 581-2885 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.