Mind and Body

Colorado town outraged by leukemia hoax

A small Colorado community was left feeling betrayed after rallying around a child dying of cancer – only to later find out the boy didn’t exist, Discovery News reported.

The hoax began when Briana Augustenbourg, 22, told co-workers about Alexander Jordan, a 9-year-old family friend dying of leukemia.  Augustenbourg said he had been brave throughout his treatments and was a fan of the local high school football team.

Hearing the story, the team invited Alexander to attend a game, released balloons in his honor and signed a ball for him.  A newspaper reported on the community’s support for the boy and later ran an obituary for him.

Soon after, the community discovered the entire story was a hoax: Alexander never existed and a photo believed to be of him was actually taken from a cancer website of a sick, but alive, patient.

Because Augustenbourg did not request donations or services on behalf of Jordan or herself, it is unlikely police will charge her with any crime.  While the community is outraged and upset, lying about an illness is not illegal.

More On This...

Many times, people who fake cancer do it for sympathy and attention, rather than trying to scam people for money.  People with a mental illness known as factitious disorder pretend to have an illness – usually terminal – and go to great lengths to maintain the story.

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