Watch CBS News

Pa. Woman Allegedly Faked Cancer, Scammed People Out Of Thousands Of Dollars

BALTIMORE (WJZ)--Officials say 23-year-old Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates scammed people out of thousands of dollars after she allegedly faked her illness.

According to the criminal complaint, she told her friends and family that she was diagnosed with stage-two leukemia back in 2013.

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren has more.

Former beauty queen Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates looked far from glamorous when police lead her to jail. She's been stripped of her title from an offshoot of the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant after what police call a scheme to prey on people's sympathies, telling them she had cancer and getting donations.

Her claims of treatment at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore unraveled after an anonymous tip.

"There are many people out there who have family, friends, neighbors who are affected with some sort of cancer and unfortunately you have people out there who take advantage of that," said Trooper Thomas Stock, Pennsylvania State Police.

Her sister would make the three hour drive with her from Central Pennsylvania to Johns Hopkins, then she'd make her wait in the lobby--for eight hours at times, while she claimed to get treatments upstairs.

Police say it was later discovered that she never received any treatment.

At one fundraiser, police say the beauty queen bilked sympathetic donors out of $14,000.

And this type of incident has happened before. Dina Leone pulled a similar scam in Baltimore County--stealing thousands from friends, even cancer survivors--after claiming she had terminal cancer. Her tears did not sway a judge, who sentenced Leone to 15 years in prison.

Psychologist James Dasigner says such people are often charming and have little remorse.

"They were very, very bright people, but they really are con artists," he says.

The pageant has asked Weaver-Gates to give up her sash and crown when she gets out of jail.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.