Last August, the Syracuse University football team invited a then-nine-year-old boy, who they were told was suffering from cancer, to attend their practice. There, according to ESPN, CJ LaFrance got to play catch with Orange linebacker Kielan Whitner and the team’s then-wide receiver Ervin Philips, while quarterback Eric Dungey gave him some throwing pointers and head coach Dino Babers wished the kid the best in his fight.
However, it turns out that the Syracuse football team — and many others — were being taken for a heinous ride. On Monday, Syracuse.com reported that the boy’s parents, Martin and Jolene M. LaFrance fabricated the story about their son having cancer to solicit roughly $3,000 from donors on GoFundMe.
The Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to the website that the couple were charged with endangering the welfare of a child and scheme to defraud. The Port Byron, New York couple — each 35-years-old — is slated to appear in court next Wednesday, May 16 for an arraignment.
That was the aftermath of a four-month investigation by the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office, which “conclusively” announced that CJ had never been diagnosed with cancer or any other serious medical condition for that matter, as reported by Syracuse.com.
The LaFrance’s sickening fraud scheme was able to generate $3,334 in donations after setting up a GoFundMe page that said CJ was battling Hodgkin lymphoma.
"I am truly humbled and at a loss for words, thank you all from the bottom of my heart, your generosity and compassion are simply amazing and overwhelming," Martin LaFrance commented on the GoFundMe page on August 30, 2017, according to a web archive from the account.
After visiting with Syracuse’s football team, including its director of player development and two-time cancer survivor, Roy Wittke, CJ’s uncle tried to lay on the lies extra thick by saying the boy’s cancer was upgraded to Stage 3 and that he needed radiation and surgery.
Since learning of the LaFrance’s disgusting scheme, GoFundMe has announced a full refund to any donors who fell for the family using the boy as a pawn on their cruel chess board of manipulation.
"The LaFrance Family has violated GoFundMe's terms of service, and all donors will receive a refund," GoFundMe said in a statement, as reported by ESPN. "Additionally, they have been banned from our platform. It's important to remember that our platform is backed by the GoFundMe Guarantee, which means that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors are fully protected and will get their money back. Additionally, we are working with law enforcement on their investigation."