Faribault man accused of faking cancer to collect thousands of d - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Faribault man accused of faking cancer to collect thousands of dollars

Rice County Sheriff's Office Rice County Sheriff's Office

Investigators say a Faribault man pretended to have cancer to trick people into donating thousands of dollars, which were then allegedly used for "drinking, dart tournaments and marijuana."

Jeremiah Jon Smith, 37, is facing a felony charge of theft by swindle.

According to the criminal complaint from Rice County, Smith claimed he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer around Oct. 23, 2015, and had between 18 to 25 months to live. A month later, he claimed he only had six months to live, the complaint says.

Smith quit his job about a month after he claimed he was battling cancer, but changed his story regarding how he learned of his diagnosis, according to the criminal complaint. Smith had said he received a phone call, but claimed another time that a nurse told him. Smith also claimed he went to a hospital to receive a trial medication, the complaint says. But when a phone call was placed to the hospital, the caller was told the hospital does not participate in medication trials.

In addition, Smith said he went to two or three appointments with doctors, but refused to allow his wife to accompany him, according to the complaint.

A GoFundMe webpage was created to benefit Smith, which collected more than $6,800 from people who believed he had cancer, the complaint says. 

In addition to the GoFundMe page, two community events were organized to raise money for Smith, according to the criminal complaint. The first was held on Feb. 6, 2016 at a restaurant in Spring Lake Park. That event, which featured a dart tournament, beer bust and silent auction, raised nearly $6,600. The second event was held on Feb. 20, 2016 in Northfield. The live and silent auction raised about $9,000, the complaint says.

According to the complainant, Smith spent all the money collected from the fundraisers. Only about $4,000 were used for outstanding bills; the rest was spent on drinking, dart tournaments, marijuana, and a video game called Clash of Clans, the complaint states.

Smith's wife said she had never seen a medical bill or record about her husband's cancer, according to the complaint. She also searched her home for any evidence of her husband's claims, but could not find anything. Smith's wife then tried to get help from Rice County Social Services, but Smith refused to sign paperwork that would have allowed Social Services to obtain his medical records, investigators said.

Around May 24, 2016, the Faribault Police Department was notified about Smith. Detectives then spoke with him about the allegations, and he said he would provide his medical records to the investigators. But he never did, the complaint says.

Smith's wife also told investigators that her husband was acting paranoid, and at one point, refused to leave a truck stop in Faribault, according to the complaint.

The complaint says when investigators met with Smith again, he repeated that he was sick with cancer. Smith even told investigators that the cancer started in his colon and spread to his kidneys and bladder, the complaint states.

A few months later, detectives were granted a search warrant for Smith's medical records, but learned that the records showed no cancer diagnosis, the complaint says. In February 2017, detectives obtained a search warrant to speak with the doctor who Smith claimed diagnosed him. The doctor said he had seen Smith before, but never diagnosed him with cancer, the complaint says.

Smith is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 8. A felony charge of theft by swindle carries up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

Powered by Frankly