Belle Gibson had everything — fame, fortune, and a second shot at life by surviving terminal cancer — at least that's what everyone thought. But all went downhill for the celebrity health and wellness blogger after she was accused of lying about the big C in 2015.
Belle Gibson, The Cancer Con
Annabelle Natalie "Belle" Gibson's first claim to fame was beating terminal brain cancer naturally — abandoning conventional medical treatments and opting for alternative remedies instead.
Featured as the "The Most Inspiring Woman You've Met This Year" by Elle Australia in 2014, Gibson credited her successful cancer remission to Ayurvedic medicine, oxygen therapy, and strict adherence to a sugar- and gluten-free diet.
Capitalizing on the public's unwavering sympathy and her inspiring cancer survival story, Gibson launched The Whole Pantry, which is a complete business package involving a website, a cookbook, and a first-of-its-kind health, wellness, and lifestyle application, which was made available through Apple's App Store and Apple Watch app showcase.
Gibson also promoted several health-related products on her Instagram account, Healing Belle, which has more than 200,000 followers.
A Story Of Schemes And Scams
In March 2015, doubt was casted over Gibson's cancer story when an anonymous email was sent to Elle Australia following her feature. The sender, who claims to be close to the blogger's mother, accuses her of being a compulsive liar — lying not only about her age, but more importantly, about having cancer.
Making matters even worse, Fairfax Media discovered that Gibson did not donate the proceeds from her The Wholesome Pantry app, which has been downloaded 300,000 times, to five chosen charities as she had promised her followers.
In an exclusive interview with the Australian Women's Weekly, Gibson admitted that she never had cancer.
"No. None of it's true," she confessed. "I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality. I have lived it and I'm not really there yet," she confessed.
Judge: Blogger Broke Consumer Laws
Belle Gibson's controversial cancer fraud case was brought to the Victorian Federal Court. Last March 15, Justice Debra Mortimer said she had upheld most but not all allegations against Gibson.
The trials have found that Gibson was aware the whole time that she didn't have cancer after consulting with Dr. Phillip Soffer but did not inform the companies she's connected to, such as Apple, Google, or Penguin.
The court has concluded that Gibson breached Section 18 of Australian consumer law, which clearly states a person must not engage in trade or commerce likely to mislead or deceive.
"Ms. Gibson deliberately played on the genuine desire of members of the Australian community to help those less fortunate. Her 'pitch' overwhelmingly used groups likely to evoke sympathy because of their vulnerabilities — young girls, asylum seekers, sick children," the judge stated.
Judge Mortimer also added that there is a reason to believe that Gibson suffered from series of delusions about her health condition. Gibson was not present during the hearing. Her penalty will be announced at a date yet to be determined.
Check out this video of Belle Gibson answering questions about her cancer.