It’s cases like this that destroy trust in real charitable causes that real people actually need.
“Mandy Strong” was the term coined two years ago by friends of Mandy Thornton Hargraves. An online fundraiser to support Hargraves in her fight to survive Stage 3 cancer quickly took off and #MandyStrong became well-known in the community. Hargraves began accepting donations in late 2014.
But now police say her inspiring story of survival was all a scam and her cancer diagnosis was fabricated.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Hargraves on Monday for theft by deception.
Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Stryde Jones, “When someone is charitable enough to reach out to someone and then find out that charitable giving done was with an ill will, it hurts.”
Friends that live in Lake Park say they didn’t think twice when asked by Mandy to start the fundraiser. Now, they say they feel betrayed.
“They raised t-shirts for them, their own daughters had worn the t-shirts and they were basically disgusted,” says Koryn Faircloth.
Faircloth has been cancer-free for two years. Once diagnosed with Lymphoma, she knows the importance of donations when fighting a cancer battle.
“It’s not even a question. If it’s anyone that you love and care for, they automatically give all that they can give and then some,” Faircloth says.
Which is why, she says, this is the worst scam of them all.
“The fact that Mandy did these fundraisers like that and it was fraud is disgraceful.”
Now, people may be wary of making their next donation on popular crowdfunding sites.
Capt. Jones says, “People just need to be aware of that and make decisions based on their individual circumstances and their knowledge of the charity, person, or event that they’re giving to.”
The Sheriff’s Office says Mandy has not said why she did it, but so far, they’ve identified more than $1,200 dollars in donations.