SUDBURY -- A three-year investigation has ended with a 36-year-old woman being charged with fraud for claiming she had cancer and then raising almost $6,500 through a GoFundMe account.

In a news release Tuesday, the Huronia West Ontario Provincial Police said the investigation began in March 2017 when they were alerted to a potential fraudulent fundraiser.

"The account was set up by family and friends to help the suspect and her family with the financial burden associated to the ongoing cancer treatment," police said. "After a lengthy investigation, police determined the suspect had not been diagnosed or treated with a critical illness in 2017."

By the time the scam was discovered, 74 victims had been cheated out of close to $6,500 they donated to help the woman.

The resident of Springwater Township has been arrested and charged with fraud over $5,000 and making a forged document.

"Investigators want to ensure well-intended people are not victimized by these type of frauds," police said, offering tips on what people should do before donating to online pleas for money:

  • Do a reverse image search on Google. Often fraudsters reuse pictures from other legitimate campaigns.
  • Read the comment section. Comments may tell you it's a fraud, or a lack of comments may also be a red flag.
  • Support people you know.
  • If you suspect a fraudulent account, report directly to GoFundMe and local law enforcement.