Woonsocket woman charged for fake cancer fundraiser

Alicia Pierini, 35, was arrested for obtaining money under false pretenses after police said she claimed she had cancer and accepted donations for treatment online. (Rhode Island State Police photo)

SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island State Police have charged a Woonsocket woman with obtaining money under false pretenses for claiming she had cancer and accepting donations for treatment online.

According to State Police, their investigation began in May after they received a complaint about an online fundraiser for 35-year-old Alicia Pierini of 27 Farm Street.

Detectives found that Pierini had told her friends and family that she had a brain tumor or brain cancer, and a friend of hers started a GoFundMe page for her in order to raise money for medical expenses. State Police said that “many individuals donated to the GoFundMe account or directly to Ms. Pierini,” generating about $28,000.

However, several people apparently became suspicious of the claim that she had cancer. State Police detectives were able to confirm that she was not a patient of any of the doctors or at any of the cancer treatment facilities that she claimed she was, and that she had never actually been diagnosed with cancer.

Detectives arrested Pierini and charged her with obtaining money under false pretenses and accessing a computer for fraudulent purposes. She was arraigned in District Court in Providence on the felony charges; no plea was entered and she was released on $40,000 personal recognizance.

State Police said that GoFundMe will be refunding all the donations that were made through the website; Bobby Whithorne, Director of Strategic Communications for GoFundMe, told Eyewitness News that “all donors to the GoFundMe campaign have already been refunded.”

Investigators ask that anyone donated any money to her should contact the State Police Financial Crimes Unit at 401-444-1201.