Money Matters - Simplified

Mom fakes son’s cancer, scams $7000 from well-wishers

The alleged hoax began online with postings on Facebook about her son's plight, where she praised the boy's courage in coping with the disease.

How does one condone a mother fundraising under the guise that her healthy son is dying from terminal cancer?

In a shocking incident, Carol Lynn Schnuphase, 47, a Michigan woman convinced her 12-year-old son that he had leukemia, shaved his head and drugged his food with opiates to make him appear lethargic in order to con benefits from church groups and fleece donations from sympathizers.

The alleged hoax began online with postings on Facebook about her son's plight, where she praised the boy's courage in coping with the disease.

"Christopher now knows he's dying," she wrote.

Mother scams $7,000 from well-wishers
She maintained the deception over a few months and quickly garnered thousands of supporters for Christopher’s cause.

Schnuphase held fund-raisers and a series of dinners at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Eastpointe, Michigan, and managed to collect around $7,000.

James Berlin, deputy chief of the Roseville Police stated, “They were duped. They felt they were helping out a mother and her son. People want to think the best of other people.”

Schnuphase maintained the deception over a few months and quickly garnered thousands of supporters for Christopher’s cause. She held fund-raisers and a series of dinners at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Eastpointe, Michigan and managed to collect around $7,000.

Deception unraveled
So convincing was Schnuphase in faking her son’s illness that even members of her family believed Christopher was suffering from cancer and was on the verge of dying.

She shaved her son’s eyebrows and hair to portray that he was undergoing chemotherapy, and deliberately fed him foods that would make him sick.

However, when Schnuphase declared that her son had died and she had decided against holding a funeral because she just couldn't "look at his little body in the coffin," her sister Elizabeth Carmack became suspicious and called police.

"I always thought that she loved him, no matter what," Carmack said. "But, obviously, she's sick and demented."

The deception was finally unraveled after the police started investigations.

Berlin stated, "We had some people come forward who said they thought the child was in good health and she was perpetrating a fraud. In the course of our investigation, we were able to determine that the child never had leukaemia."

Schnuphase could face up to 14 years in prison
Schnuphase is expected to face two counts of accepting money under false pretences involving more than $1,000.

Each carries a sentence of up to five years. She will also be charged with a count of second-degree child abuse, a felony with a sentence of up to four years.

Meanwhile, Christopher has been placed with foster parents. The boy apparently had no inkling of the scam and genuinely believed he was sick.