SHALIMAR, Fla., Feb. 2, 2018–Among all the fake IRS calls, fake utility collection calls and other devious ways to separate honest people from their money comes a scam originating closer to home.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office investigators reported a Fort Walton Beach couple told people their child had terminal brain cancer in a phony, yet successful attempt last fall to get donations to help with the cost of his so-called medical expenses.
The 13-year-old spent the last eight months believing he was going to die from brain cancer, but the OCSO’s investigation revealed his medical records proved no brain tumors exist.
The parents, 34-year-old Ginny Irovando Long and her husband, 47-year-old Robert Edward Long, were charged by the OCSO with one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud Feb. 1. The child abuse charge is a third-degree felony.
The investigation revealed the pair set up a T-shirt fundraiser for the boy at his school last year and shared bogus cancer diagnosis information on their Facebook accounts in July 2017.
In a Dec. 28 post, investigators said Ginny Long claimed it was a miracle the boy had lived three days past Christmas and “the only person who knows when he is supposed to go is God.”
As recently as Jan. 13, Robert Long posted in an open prayer he was living in fear he could lose his son any day and he wasn’t sure how his older son was “handling things.” He asked God to guide him and his wife to “doing the right thing.”
Facebook photographs show the victim appeared to be in good health.
When investigators talked to the child, he said his mother told him back in May 2017 he was going to die due to brain cancer. He said it scared him and he didn’t like to talk about it.
He also told them his parents had created a Go Fund Me account on his behalf.
The OCSO began its investigation in November 2017 after suspicions arose within the school resource officer program that the couple was exploiting the victim for financial gain by falsely saying he was dying from brain cancer.
The couple was taken into custody Feb. 1 at their home on Scottwood Drive.
Staff and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office release