A Hernando woman lied to her close family and friends, telling them she had cancer, in order to collect thousands of dollars in donations.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office learned of 36-year-old Kelly Johanneson’s “unusual case of lies and deceit” in September 2014, deputies said.
Johanneson’s family members lost touch with her for one month in late 2013, the sheriff’s office said. When she returned, “she delivered the tragic news to loved ones that she had Stage IV breast cancer and had been at Moffitt Cancer Center for testing,” deputies said.
Johanneson asked her devastated family members for financial support, the sheriff’s office said. Family and friends gave her hundreds of dollars in cash for doctor’s appointments.
“Loved ones then reached out to the community to help pay for Kelly’s medical bills,” deputies said.
Supporters created a GoFundMe.com page called “KellysHope.” The site raised at least $4,400. In addition, other fundraisers were held.
The Citrus County Airboat Alliance raised money for Johanneson. Deputies said the amount the alliance raised has not yet been determined.
Detectives received a complaint in September 2014 and subsequently learned none of Johanneson’s close relatives had proof her claims were true.
Johanneson gave detectives the names of doctors at Moffitt Cancer Center and again said she’d been treated there. Detectives obtained paperwork that made it seem like Johanneson had been a patient at Moffitt.
Moffitt representatives told detectives they’d never had a patient named Kelly Johannesson. The center also checked Johannesson’s date of birth and Social Security Number.
“Moffitt also confirmed the paperwork was fraudulent,” deputies said.
Johanneson has been charged with organized fraud, a 3rd degree felony.
“This is the first case in Citrus County of its kind,” Det. John Bergen said. “It just seems so implausible that someone would use a horrible illness like cancer for personal gain. Johanneson hurt so many people, from people that loved her to people that hardly knew her but wanted to help.”