A Utah human rights advocate was arrested Wednesday for reportedly faking Cancer and collecting thousands for medical expenses. Coco Berthmann, 28, who raised awareness about human trafficking, was slapped with charges of communications fraud.
Quoting a probable cause affidavit, Salt Lake City's FOX 13 reported that South Jordan Police started a probe after someone notified them that Berthmann was raising money on a GoFundMe page to help her battle against Mantle Cell Lymphoma. The page had raised $9000 at the time of the investigation.
Berthmann stressed that she had the documentation to prove her cancer diagnosis when authorities questioned her. She, however, 'never followed through,' the affidavit noted. She also told investigators that she was physically too weak to meet in person but could speak over phone.
Coco Berthmann Changed her Story Multiple Times
According to FOX 13, Huntsman Cancer Institute, where Berthmann claimed to have been treated for cancer, informed the investigators that there were no records of her being a patient with them. When investigators contacted Berthmann again, she said that she left the aforementioned institute weeks ago to consult with specialists in Alaska and Chicago.
When investigators contacted the oncology clinic in Alaska mentioned by Berthmann, they told them that she was never a patient. When confronted again, Berthmann allegedly changed her story saying was treated at Intermountain Hospital and not the Huntsman Cancer Institute but failed to present any credible documentation supporting her claims.
Survivor of Human Trafficking
Hailing from Germany, Berthmann has claimed to be a survivor of human trafficking. The Malouf Foundation, where Berthmann often hosted panels, said that they haven't worked with her in over a year.
The Malouf Foundation said in a statement that they have procedures to ensure the advocacy provided by them is accurate and responsible. "If the credibility of an individual or their accusation of sex trafficking is called into question, we immediately investigate and work to take deliberate and thoughtful action to address the situation," the statement further added.
Berthmann is currently in custody at the Salt Lake City Jail. It was not known if she hired an attorney at the moment who could speak on her behalf. She hasn't been formally charged yet.