A few years ago, Australian Belle Gibson was skyrocketing to fame due to her story that she successfully defeated cancer through a vegan diet, yoga, and “detoxing.” Apple even promoted her Whole Pantry app for their new-at-the-time Watch, while a major publisher put out a book of the same name.
They found out that Gibson didn’t just lie about how she defeated cancer. She lied about having it.
While Gibson tried to go down the path of media rehabilitation, hoping to keep her fame afloat, critics rightfully pointed out that the bullshit she spewed did actual harm to actual cancer patients. How many people avoided chemotherapy because they thought a detox would do the trick?
Gibson later said she would donate the money she made off of her lie to worthy causes. That didn’t happen either. She gave about $10,000 to charity despite making more than $440,000 from her app and book… and even that was only after reporters began asking about it.
In 2017, Consumer Affairs Victoria filed a lawsuit against Gibson for not living up to her promise. She lost the case, and the Federal Court in Melbourne handed her a $410,000 fine.
Ms Gibson has been fined for five separate contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law Act.
The fine includes:
Justice [Debbie] Mortimer described the failure to donate to the Schwarz family as the “most serious” contravention of the law.
- $90,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the sale of The Whole Pantry app, as publicly advertised
- $50,000 for failing to donate proceeds from the launch of The Whole Pantry app
- $30,000 for failing to donate proceeds from a 2014 Mothers Day event
- $90,000 for failing to donate other company profits
- $150,000 for failing to donate 100 per cent of one week’s app sales to the family of Joshua Schwarz, a boy who had an inoperable brain tumour
“Ms Gibson expressly compared the terrible circumstances of young Joshua to her own, asserting she had the same kind of tumour as he did; a statement which was completely false, ” Justice Mortimer said.
What. A. Monster.
She lied about overcoming a disease, lied about having the disease, promised to give money she made from her lie to a little boy who actually had the disease, and then reneged on that too! On top of all that, the huckster didn’t even have the courage to show her face in court, opting instead to send an email to the judge acknowledging her awareness that a punishment was on the way.
And to top it all off, she never paid the $410,000 fine.
Now she’s being taken to court over that non-compliance.
Justice Mortimer warned Gibson in November failure to pay the penalty will make her liable for jail, property seizures or other punishment.
The judge scathingly described the fraudster as having a “relentless obsession with herself” when she handed down her penalty in September, 2017.
She’ll have to appear in person on May 14. Who knows if she’ll actually go through with it. At this point, the pathological liar’s reputation is forever etched in stone, but plenty of people still believe she’s the subject of some sort of witch hunt.
It may take a serious punishment to show people that they can’t get away with lying and promoting unproven “alternative” medicines as part of some larger scam.
Let’s hope other hucksters take notice.
(Large portions of this article were published earlier)