Florida couple tricked boy into believing he had terminal brain cancer, scammed community, deputies say

By WKRG Staff - FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) - A Florida couple faked a 13-year-old's terminal illness, tricking community members and the child himself into believing the boy was dying as part of a scheme to raise money, deputies say.

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office investigators say the boy spent eight months believing he was dying of brain cancer. But his medical records prove he doesn't have any brain tumors, deputies said.

Ginny Irovando Long, 34, and her husband, Robert Edward Long, 47, have been charged by deputies with one count of child abuse and nine counts of fraud.

Deputies started investigating in November after a referral from a school resource officer suspicious that the boy wasn't really dying of cancer.

They uncovered a plot that involved soliciting donations to help with the cost of the boy's fictional medical expenses, investigators said.

The investigation revealed the pair set up a T-shirt fundraiser for the boy at his school last year and shared the bogus cancer diagnosis information on their Facebook accounts as well. In a post on Dec. 28, investigators say Irovando claimed it was a miracle the boy had lived three days past Christmas and that only God knew when he was supposed to go. Investigators say the victim appeared to be in good health in the photograph.

When deputies talked to the child, he said Irovando told him in May 2017 that he was going to die due to brain cancer. He told them it scared him and he didn't like to talk about it, officials said. He also told them Irovando and Long had created a GoFundMe account on his behalf.


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