She duped thousands of people into buying a cookbook and other schlock by feeding them a sad but dramatic story of a young woman curing her own terminal cancer–a disease we now know she never actually had–with nutrition and “holistic” therapies. But soon, Belle Gibson, whose legal name is actually Annabelle Natalie Gibson, will fork over more than 400,000 Australian dollars for her fraud.
In 2013 Gibson, became a household name among natural medicine advocates when she claimed to have cured brain cancer after previously being given only a few months to live back in 2009. Making extensive use of social media websites like Instagram and Facebook, Gibson parlayed her lies into a business that was estimated, at one point, to be worth well over a million dollars.
But her house of lies began to unravel after the magazine Elle Australia featured Belle Gibson in late 2014. After that issue hit newsstands, an anonymous source sent an email to the magazine and accused Gibson of, among other things, being a “compulsive liar” and a “master manipulator” who was lying about her cancer diagnosis and even her real age. A separate investigation by another media outlet turned up evidence that Gibson’s company had not donated money she had claimed to have given to charity.
In April of 2015, facing an avalanche of allegations, Gibson admitted in an interview with The Australian Women’s Weekly that–to use her words–“None of it’s true.”
Gibson was sued by Victoria, Australia’s consumer protection agency, Consumer Affairs Victoria. This week Belle Gibson, who has reportedly not attended the various court proceedings against her, was ordered to pay over $4 million for several deceptions and to reimburse Consumer Affairs Victoria for its legal expenses: