Las Vegas — An amateur poker player who said he had terminal cancer and accepted thousands of dollars in donations so he could play in a World Series of Poker tournament in Las Vegas now admits it was all a lie.
Rob Mercer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he made up a stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis for his GoFundMe page in June, the newspaper reported Wednesday.
"I did lie about having colon cancer. I don't have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation," Mercer told the paper.
"What I did was wrong," he continued. "I shouldn't have told people I have colon cancer. I did that just as a spur-of-the-moment thing when someone asked me what kind of cancer I had."
Mercer, of Vallejo, California, was trying to raise enough funds to meet the $10,000 buy-in for the No-limit Hold'em World Championship. He received contributions worth between $30,000 and $50,000, including a stay at a suite in the Bellagio. Even a fellow player from Arizona who suffers from chronic illness donated $2,500.
"I'm sorry for not being honest about what my situation was. If I would have done that from Day One, who knows what would have happened," Mercer remarked to the newspaper.
However, the 37-year-old says he won't be refunding anyone because he believes he has undiagnosed breast cancer.
He said he has been more or less banished from the poker community.
Mercer confirmed to the Vegas-Review that GoFundMe got in touch with him about violating its terms of service.
People who donated to Mercer were notified late Wednesday by GoFundMe that they'd be getting refunds, according to the newspaper.
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