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Couple faked son's cancer, took in thousands, police say

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Police say a central New York couple pretended their 9-year-old son had blood cancer in order to solicit money from sympathetic donors, even receiving an invite to Syracuse University football practice from the ruse.

The Cayuga County Sheriff's Office says Martin and Jolene LaFrance, of Port Byron, were charged with scheme to defraud, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child on Friday. Authorities say the couple faked the story of their son having Hodgkin lymphoma and set up a GoFundMe page that raised over $3,000 in donations.

The family was also invited to an SU practice in August 2017, where they met with athletes and coaches.

GoFundMe said in a Monday statement that anyone who donated to the campaign will have their money refunded.

CBS Syracuse affiliate WTVH-TV reports investigators said they were tipped off by an outside source not connected to the family.

One neighbor told WTVH he is "very upset that they would do something that low."

The station also says there's been no indication the child was aware of the scam.