Police in Florida have accused a Fort Walton Beach couple of deceiving the public and their 13-year-old son, falsely claiming he had life-threatening cancer while allegedly soliciting financial donations online to cover his medical costs.
A statement from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office confirms Ginny Irovando Long, 34, and her husband, 47-year old Robert Edward Long, face one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud.
The couple allegedly launched a GoFundMe campaign last fall, seeking donations for their son, according to the statement.
“The 13-year-old has spent the last eight months believing he is going to die from brain cancer,” reads the statement, adding their “investigation revealed his medical records prove no brain tumors exist.”
The investigation was initiated back in November, after a school resource officer grew suspicious of the couple’s intentions and filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office.
The school resource officer’s complaint alleged the couple were exploiting their son for their own financial gain.
“The investigation revealed the pair set up a T-shirt fundraiser for the boy at his school last year and shared the bogus cancer diagnosis information on their Facebook accounts as well,” the statement alleges.
“In a post [on] December 28th, investigators say Irovando claimed it was a miracle the boy had lived three days past Christmas and the only person that knows when he is supposed to go is God,” the statement continues.
“Investigators say the victim appeared to be in good health in the photograph,” the statement reads. “When they talked to the child, he said Irovando told him he was going to die due to brain cancer back in May 2017.”
The boy told police he was afraid and did not like talking about his cancer, and alerted investigators to the existence of the GoFundMe page.
The couple were arrested at their home on Feb. 1.
They have not entered pleas yet, and neither has an attorney of record who could comment on their behalf.