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TX Teen Faked Leukemia, Got $17K in Donations

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on September 16, 2011 6:56 AM

A Horizon City, Texas teen who faked leukemia is now facing felony theft charges filed by police. Angie Gomez, 18, started the deception by telling friends, church members and classmates that she was dying from terminal cancer and would only have six months to live.

Community members rallied behind the teenager, organizing a fundraiser and a special prom to help Gomez. Gomez even created a foundation called "Achieve the Dream," aimed at helping children with leukemia, the New York Daily News reports.

Gomez managed to rake in around $17,000 in donations from community members. She also spent time speaking in front of crowds about her disease during talks and fundraising events. She claimed she had battled the disease from the age of 2 to 13, according to the New York Daily News.

Police became involved after someone complained that Gomez did not appear to be sick.

Some of Gomez's classmates then stepped forward, admitting that they weren't sure if Gomez was ill or not. Some said they did not come forward earlier because they didn't want to seem insensitive or rude to her situation, the El Paso Times reports.

Gomez's mother, who was contacted by investigators, was unaware of the breadth of her daughter's fundraising efforts, according to the El Paso Times. So far there are no indications that Gomez ever suffered from leukemia.

The Horizon City Police Department has filed non-arrest charges with the District Attorney for felony theft by deception, the El Paso Times reports.

Theft is defined as a crime where an individual takes someone else's property with the intent to permanently deprive them. Theft can occur by deception, such as if the defendant tricks or prevents individuals from learning facts that might affect their judgment when making transactions like donations.

By deceiving individuals into thinking she had life-threatening cancer, Angie Gomez likely committed theft. For now, Gomez remains free. The teen who faked leukemia has not been arrested yet, and the district attorney is continuing to review the case, CBS News reports.

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