In these times of good living and holistic living, many self-styled mentors can be seen offering wellness tips and sustainable living. The unsuspecting followers would devour them unhesitatingly. But in Australia, wellness blogger Belle Gibson has landed in deep trouble and is facing jail plus a hefty penalty. She is being penalised for faking brain cancer then minting money by selling cure tips to thousands of followers.
Her “deceptive conduct” has been seized by Consumer Affairs Victoria which promptly started legal proceedings against her, reports The Guardian. According to Consumer Affairs Victoria director Simon Cohen, the legal option is an important step in ensuring that consumers receive only verified information and are not deceived, particularly in health and medical treatment. Gibson may face pecuniary penalties totalling $1.1millon.
Melbourne-based Belle Gibson launched a recipe and lifestyle app, The Whole Pantry, claiming she cured herself with carefully prepared diet and lifestyle management. Her book of recipes, Whole Pantry, was published by Penguin.
The department launched the investigation in June of 2015 after claims surfaced that she failed to donate $300,000 from the sales of her wellness app, The Whole Pantry, to a charity, News Corp reported.
Too many inconsistencies regarding her date of birth raised doubts about a fraudulent approach as she claimed cancer was diagnosed in 1999 at the age of 20 when her actual birth date was in October 1991.
Penguin also faced the heat and admitted that the book had been “published in good faith.” They have not made any fact-checked on Gibson’s claims. Penguin will be paying the Victorian consumer law fund $30,000 for its failure to check the veracity of Gibson’s book. Penguin has already pulled out “The Whole Pantry” from circulation in Australia and its US launch was scrapped.
An unperturbed Belle Gibson told the Australian Women’s Weekly: “None of it is true. I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, ‘OK, she’s human.”