A 19-year-old woman from eastern Iowa was arrested less than two weeks after police learned she could steal from people who were trying to help her. The problem was that the police claim that the story she was telling is not true.
The Eldridge Police Department says in a press release that they were contacted around 6:00 pm on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, with concerns that Madison Russo might be robbing hundreds of people by falsely claiming she was sick. According to the police department, she claimed she “suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, stage 2 pancreatic cancer, and a soccer ball-sized tumor that wrapped around her spine.”
Anonymous witnesses with medical experience met with a police department investigator on the night of 11 January. The Eldridge Police Department says they have “pointed out a host of medical inconsistencies found in photographs of her posted on her social media sites.”
Russo’s medical records were subpoenaed as part of the Eldridge Police Department’s investigation. The department says they have shown that Russo was not diagnosed with cancer or a tumor in Square Cities or medical facilities in other areas. A search warrant was also executed at Russo’s home in Bettendorf. Eldridge police did not say what they found due to an ongoing investigation.
Police say Russo set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations. They believe she stole $37,303 from nearly 440 different donors with her false health claims. Eldridge Police also says she has received money from nonprofits, businesses, individuals and school districts. The Eldridge Police Department is still trying to get information on all the victims before releasing their names.
In addition to GoFundMe, Russo has spoken about her battle with cancer at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, on the Project Purple online podcast, and for the National Pancreas Foundation in Chicago.
Russo was arrested at Saint Ambrose University on Monday. She was charged with theft by deception, a Class C felony. Russo is being held in the Scott County Jail on $10,000 bail.
Anyone who has donated to Madison Russo is asked to contact Eldridge Police at (563) 285-3916 or this email address: [email protected]
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