Police allege Texas mother Juanita Garcia used her 7-year-old daughter to scam people by telling them the girl is stricken with cancer, and has only months to live.
Garcia allegedly organized fundraisers and told people both in person and through social media that her daughter her daughter was diagnosed with cancer, and fighting for her life, KHOU reports.
Child Protective Services became suspicious of Garcia and reported to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s officials on Oct. 22 the 46-year-old had been approaching people for donations and organized fundraisers for alleged cancer treatments for her daughter.
“Through the course of the investigation, investigators discovered that seven year old child had been medically evaluated, and no illness had been found,” according to a media release posted to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
“During questioning, Garcia admitted to investigators that her daughter had never been diagnosed with cancer, and that she had obtained monetary donations from various persons.”
Sheriff’s officials arrested Garcia Dec. 9 on a child exploitation charge, a third degree felony. Images posted with the media release show Garcia went as far as shaving the young girl’s head, and dressed her in cancer awareness clothing to gain sympathy in Facebook posts.
In one image, the young girl poses with a shirt that reads: “I’m NOT a boy. I’m a girl fighting cancer.”
KGBT reports Garcia allegedly convinced the child she had cancer in June, and the girl believed she was destined to die soon.
“My princess fighting her cancer I know she will prayers for my baby,” Garcia posted to Facebook June 24, according to the site.
Child Protective Services took custody of the young girl. Garcia is lodged in the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center on a $10,000 bond after her arraignment on the exploitation charge.
Hidalgo Sgt. J.P. Rodriguez told KRMG the situation shows why people should pay close attention to where their charitable donations are going.
“We don’t want to discourage people to participate in those fundraisers, but we do want them to be cautious,” he said, adding that it’s critical to “confirm information before donating to strangers.”
“This makes me sick,” Samantha Compton posted to the sheriff’s Facebook post. “My 4-year-old daughter has fought adult brain cancers since she was 18 months old! No amount of money is worth a child having cancer and the kids that do have cancer and their family needs help can’t get it because of people like her. This makes me so angry!”
“How rotten and low-down can one get using a child like this,” Dora Robles added.
“Sick woman needs to get a job and quit begging and living off of people and her child,” Manuel Guajardo wrote. “Where is the father?”
“There should be a hate or disgust button to click on,” Carol Ann Kane posted. “Disgusting and a pathetic display of motherhood. Just because you have a child doesn’t make you a ‘parent.’ That’s a role you have to earn. Appalling!”