Wellness Blogger Belle Gibson Misled And Deceived Consumers With Fake Cancer Story, Judge Says [VIDEO]
A judge found Australian wellness blogger Belle Gibson guilty of misleading the public and defrauding clients for claiming she had cured her brain cancer through alternative therapies and healthy diet. Gibson could be fined up to $220,000.
Annabelle Natalie Gibson, more popularly known as Belle Gibson, amassed a huge following on social media through her blog, website and mobile phone app named The Whole Pantry. She also released a cookbook of the same name. She promoted her products based on her stories of having successfully beaten terminal cancer with food, sans the standard medical treatments recommended for cancer patients.
The ABC News Australia reported that Gibson was under investigation two years ago when Consumer Affairs Victoria filed a case against her and her company, Inkerman Road Nominees, which paid $30,000 in penalty.
In 2015, Gibson confessed making up her story of cancer survival. She told a magazine that she led a difficult life in childhood - a young girl looking after a mom who suffered from multiple sclerosis and an autistic brother. Her mother denied her claims saying her brother was not autistic and that she did not do any household chores. The two had not been speaking for years.
On Wednesday, Justice Debbie Mortimer upheld most, but not all the allegations against her. Along with the fake cancer story, Gibson fraudulently claimed that a chunk of the profits from her products would be donated to charities. CAV accused her of failing to give up to $300,000 in fulfillment of that promise. She raked in $1 million in profits from her cookbook and app, the News.com Australia reported. The regulatory agency is now asking that she also make a public apology and to refrain from doing similar activities.
In 2014, a physician Gibson consulted cleared her of any cancer diagnosis but she did not tell Apple, Google and her publisher. Because of insufficient evidence to prove that Belle Gibson knew she did not have cancer from the start, the judge supposed that she must have had delusions about her health condition. Not all humans are rational and reasonable all the time, Mortimer added.