An online fraudster claiming to be a social media “wellness blogger” has this week been fined $410,000AUD for misleading readers.
The Internet is a hotbed for a number of online scams and misinformation, especially concerning the dietary and health niches. A number of bloggers – many of whom have become incredibly popular – are in the business of shunning science based medicines in favour of all natural medicines or therapies.
Among these is Belle Gibson, a 25 year old Australian who was incredibly popular on social media, and who claimed to have had cancer which she managed to cure from dietary changes.
From those claims, Gibson had launched both a cookbook and an app called The Whole Pantry. ELLE magazine had even called her the “most inspiring woman you’ve met this year“.
However, after many social media spectators managed to find inconsistencies in her story, in 2016 Gibson finally admitted that she did not have cancer at all. What’s more, Gibson had previously promised to donate many of the profits from her app and cookbook to various charities; something that didn’t happen.
In a hearing, Gibson was told to pay a penalty of $90,000 for her false claims that she would make donations from the sale of her app, $90,000 for false claims that her company would make charitable donations, $50,000 for fake claims that following her app launch would result in charitable donations, $150,000 for false claims that she would make donations to the Schwartz family, whose son suffered brain cancer, and $30,000 for false claims that she would donate to charity from a Mother’s Day event. That’s $410,00 in total.