ITVX's The Search for Instagram's Worst Con Artist has viewers wondering where Belle Gibson is now.
Belle Gibson was a young, single mother with a devastating cancer diagnosis - or so everyone thought. After claiming to have cured her terminal brain cancer through healthy eating the Australian shot to fame, launching a hugely successful app and gaining a book deal too. But things began to unravel when her friends and fans began to question her symptoms and the claims she made about donating money to charity. Now, ITV is uncovering the story in its latest documentary The Search for Instagram's Worst Con Artist.
It's part of ITV's 'Swindles & Cons' section, and for true crime fans wondering what to watch in November, there's plenty to choose from. Elsewhere in the collection, The Other Mrs Jordan has viewers wondering where William Allen Jordan is now, after the fraudster convinced his wife he was a CIA agent. Meanwhile, Vanishing Act left others asking what happened to Melissa Caddick - the millionairess who went missing in 2020.
Where is Belle Gibson now?
The current whereabouts of Belle Gibson are not known, as the disgraced influencer has kept a low profile since her lies were exposed back in 2015. However, in 2017 Belle was fined around £240,000 after being found guilty of five breaches of consumer law.
She failed to attend any of the civil court hearings, and when notified of the figure of the fine emailed saying, "Thank you for the update. Much appreciated".
Justice Debbie Mortimer, the judge in the case, ordered the money should be given to "some or all" of the charity groups and individuals Gibson had previously promised she would donate to.
In both 2020 and 2021, Belle Gibson's house was reportedly raided in an attempt to recoup the fine which she had not yet paid - despite the fact that in 2019 she was reportedly spotted at Melbourne airport after spending thousands on a safari holiday.
More recently, the disgraced blogger had been spending time with the Oromo ethnic group in Melbourne. However, according to Daily Mail Australia, the Australian Oromo Community Association cut ties with Belle Gibson after learning about her past.
What did Belle Gibson do?
Belle Gibson claimed she had terminal brain cancer and had cured herself with healthy eating. Her story gained her fans around the world and hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, but it was later discovered that she never had the disease.
Belle claimed she had undergone traditional cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy, before deciding to follow a clean eating programme instead.
In 2013, she launched the now-defunct @healing_belle Instagram account where she gained a large following through sharing her recipes. She soon started to profit from her story, launching an app called The Whole Pantry, which was full of recipes, and gaining a book deal too. Both of these have since been withdrawn.
She reportedly had 200,000 users downloading the app within the first month, and ranked number one in the App Store. Apple chose the app as Best App of 2013 in the Food and Drink category.
Then, in 2014, Belle claimed her cancer had returned, and this time it had spread. However, it was at this point that her story began to unravel.
Chanelle McAuliffe, a former friend of Belle Gibson, previously spoke to This Morning, revealing that she had once confronted her friend over a lack of cancer symptoms. She said, "Belle was very convincing in her conviction of being sick and having an illness... she would take on other people's symptoms. She would meet other people that had cancer and take on their symptoms and kind of use them as her own."
However, Chanelle noticed that Belle had been drinking 'excessive' amounts of alcohol and using sunbeds, which led to her suspicions. She added, "I had a family friend who passed away of cancer and I had witnessed their journey with it.
"So I was kind of aware of someone who is actually very sick with cancer and what that looks like. They get to the point where they are very frail and bedridden and Belle never presented those kind of symptoms."
After confronting her friend and asking her to provide evidence of her diagnosis, Chanelle realised that Belle had been lying. She said, "The more she spoke, it just kind of confirmed my suspicions. There was nothing she could come to the table with to make me believe that she in fact had cancer."
How was Belle Gibson caught?
Suspicions around Belle Gibson's claims began to rise around the time her book was released in 2014, when people grew suspicious about the money she claimed to have donated to charity.
Belle claimed to have donated money from the proceeds of her book and her app, and she had also raised some donations with the help of her Instagram followers. But following an investigation by Fairfax Media, it was discovered that none of the charities Belle had named had received a penny from her.
In addition, the preface for her book stated she had been "stable for two years now with no growth of the cancer", a claim that was inconsistent with what she had previously told other media outlets.
In April 2015, Belle was forced to admit that she had lied in an interview with the Australian Woman's Weekly. "I don't want forgiveness," she said. "I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, 'Okay, she's human.'"
Following her admission, Apple withdrew her app from its store and Apple Watch. Her accountants wound up her business, and her book was withdrawn from publication.
Elsewhere, those tuning in to ITVX's The Football Fraudster have been wondering about Medi Abalimba now, the footballer turned con artist. We also took a look at where Paolo Macchiarini is now, the doctor from Netflix's Bad Surgeon.
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Ellie is Goodto’s Feature Editor, having joined the team as a Junior Features Writer in 2022, and covers everything from wellbeing for parents to the latest TV and entertainment. Ellie has covered all the latest trends in the parenting world, including baby names, parenting hacks, and foodie tips for busy families. She has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University, and previously Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies.
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