The email that exposed mum and daughter who faked brain tumour to con celebs and friends out of £400k
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A medical mum has revealed how an email exposed a fraudulent mother and daughter who faked a brain tumour and founded a charity to con celebs and their friends out of £400k.
Believe in Magic, was a charity supposedly granting wishes to seriously ill children as 17-year-old founder Megan Bhari and her mother Jean O'Brien allegedly struggled with Megan's own health issues.
When Jo Ashcroft, whose son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma (a cancer of the nervous system), first saw the JustGiving appeal Jean had shared on Facebook in early 2015, it was a massive red flag.
She claimed she needed £120,000 for Megan's life-saving treatment in the US.
Jo had herself raised £250,000 for successful cutting-edge treatment in the US, but something seemed off with Megan's appeal as it was vague about doctors and hospitals.
She told the BBC: "I was a bit suspicious. I just wanted to make sure the money was going to the right place."
A year later, Jo saw the pair fundraising again and was told that Megan was seriously unwell in a US hospital and they needed more money to find treatment.
This time, Jo and a concerned group of medical parents vowed to get answers, with Jo even posing as a journalist.
"It became all-consuming," Jo explained. "I don't want people being ripped off, especially not in the cancer community."
Finally one of the group was able to trace an IP address and see where Jean was opening her emails.
It wasn't the cutting-edge hospital they'd claimed, but a luxury hotel at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
When asked about their location Megan simply said 'it is very easy to get sucked into social media lies'.
When the pair returned to the UK after Megan had allegedly faced '16 sources of infections' and severe sepsis in the States, her condition was finally stable and she returned with extensive medical kit and a 'huge oxygen concentrator'.
But waiting for them on the dock as they disembarked the ocean liner was a private investigator Jo had paid £1,000 to take photos of the pair.
The photos showed Megan and Jean strolling off the ship minus the oxygen tank.
When authorities refused to intervene, Jo and her group set up a Facebook group called 'The Truth About Meg And Jean' where they shared their discoveries.
But Megan and Jean's supporters refused to believe it and bombarded Jo with hate.
In 2017, the Charity Commission began an investigation into the charity and and found sums of nearly £400,000 missing and money transferred into Jean's personal bank account.
It was subsequently shut down in 2020.
As the investigation was ongoing, Megan passed away
The forensic pathologist explained that Megan's brain had been 'morphologically normal'.
Megan died due to an abnormality of the rhythm of the heart caused by fatty liver disease.
Jean told BBC News Megan had a pituitary microadenoma, a type of non-cancerous brain tumour which is not typically life-threatening, but can be harmful.
Professor Marc Feldman, one of the world's most renowned experts on factitious disorders, suggested Megan's case 'screams' of Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII).
The rare form of child abuse involves a parent exaggerating symptoms of illness.
Jean denied this: "I loved and cared for my daughter. Suggesting I might have harmed her in any way at all is absolutely sickening."