A Calgary woman has been charged after allegedly holding a fake fundraiser to raise money for cancer treatment she didn’t need.
Krysta-Lyn Williams, 30, has been charged with one count of fraud over $5,000, Calgary police told Global News.
The news has left those that knew the young mother in a state of disbelief.
Nicky Arsenault said she first heard about Williams battling cervical cancer last fall, but in early spring Williams allegedly told her colleagues it had returned and had spread to her major organs.
“A GoFundMe page popped up for her and said she was going to undergo surgery in Seattle,” Arsenault said. “Obviously it not being in Canada, it was really expensive, like $70,000 and they were trying to raise half that.”
Arsenault said a couple of weeks later Williams then contacted her to help sell tickets for a raffle.
“She said WestJet had donated two tickets for anywhere WestJet flies to help raise money for her surgery,” Arsenault said.
A post on social media shared by Arsenault reads that people can e-transfer their money to “email@example.com” and that a local news company would also be present for the raffle, “possibly Global News.”
“There was apparently an AGLC number in place, the raffle was going to be held with Global involved, and so everyone contributed,” Arsenault said.
Arsenault said the raffle was held on May 4 at a pub in south Calgary and a winner was picked.
It wasn’t long after that red flags started going up.
“A friend of mine won and he was told he would be contacted to get the tickets, but when I asked if he got them he said, ‘I’m still waiting on WestJet, they keep saying by the end of the day,'” Arsenault said.
Global News reached out to WestJet but the company declined to comment.
“As this is a matter before the authorities, we won’t be providing any comment,” Lauren Stewart, Westjet spokesperson, said in an email. “To be clear, Westjet wasn’t involved. Our name was used, the same as Global’s name was used.”
WestJet’s policies around its charity donations are posted on its website.
Rachel Hollis with the fundraising platform GoFundMe said the organization is working closely with law enforcement.
“I can confirm that we closed the campaign, banned the campaign organizer and donors are being refunded,” Hollis wrote in an email. “What matters most to us is that our users are protected and those who need help get the help they deserve.”
Arsenault said she was able to get back some of the money that she had raised for Williams after confronting her but fears not everyone will see their money returned.
“I find it infuriating. I have not met a single person who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way, whether it’s affected someone in their family or someone they work with, it hits home and that’s why people wanted to give,” she said.
Global News reached out to Williams for comment but did not receive a response.