Woman formerly of Bay Area sentenced to five years in prison for fraud scheme


Notice: Historical Content

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Defendant pretended to have cancer to defraud victims out of more than $100,000

Date: May 3, 2022

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

Amanda Christine Riley was sentenced in federal court today to 60 months in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to solicit donations from individuals to help her pay for cancer treatments she never needed nor received, announced United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Mark H. Pearson. The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, United States District Judge for the Northern District of California.

Beginning in 2012, Riley, who was then living in San Jose, began to falsely report that she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer. Although she was not actually ill, Riley carefully cultivated a social media presence, using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and a blog. She used her presence on these sites to "document" her nonexistent medical condition, and to aggressively solicit donations, supposedly to cover her medical expenses. In truth, Riley had no medical expenses. The donations she received were deposited into her personal bank accounts and used to pay her living expenses. In total, the government identified 349 individuals and entities who made contributions with a total value of $105,513 towards Riley's fabricated medical expenses.

Information provided at the sentencing hearing showed that Riley went to great lengths to maintain her deception: she shaved her head to make it appear as if she were receiving chemotherapy; she falsified medical records; she forged physicians' letters and medical certifications; she convinced family members to echo her false claims; she gave materially false testimony in several legal proceedings; and she attacked anyone who suggested she was malingering (going so far as to sue one of them). Riley's scheme continued from 2012 until 2019, when it was uncovered by an investigation of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the San Jose Police Department.

Riley was charged by criminal complaint in July 2020 and pleaded guilty to an information charging one count of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 on October 12, 2021. In addition to her 60-month prison sentence, Judge Freeman ordered that Riley pay restitution in the amount of $105,513. The sentence also included a three year period of supervision following her release from prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael G. Pitman and Scott Simeon prosecuted the case with the assistance of Sahib Kaur. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the San Jose Police Department.