BELLE Gibson pretended to have two heart attacks, a stroke and terminal brain cancer in order to launch a career as a wellness guru.
The influencer's dastardly deception is the subject of a new documentary series — ITVX's The Search For Instagram's Worst Con Artist.
What happened to Belle Gibson?
Belle Gibson, from Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, found fame through Instagram as a food and health blogger.
She amassed thousands of followers on social media by faking two cardiac arrests and a stroke, and then alleging she had terminal cancer.
Belle claimed she underwent three heart surgeries, during which she died twice on the operating table, waking up to the prognosis she had an inoperable brain tumour and just six months to live.
Her first post in the sick scheme read: "Five years ago today, I was sitting in front of a man who was about to tell me I was dying from malignant brain cancer with six months to live."
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Gibson launched The Whole Pantry in August 2013, with a whopping 200,000 users reportedly downloading the app within the first month — going on to be voted Apple's Best Food and Drink App of 2013.
Belle also signed a deal with Lantern Books — an imprint of Penguin Books — for a cookbook with the same name as the app, which was published in October 2014.
Amazingly the book is still for sale on Amazon with the following description: "Belle Gibson is an inspirational young mother who encourages us to nourish ourselves in a more natural and sustainable way.
"After being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer Belle found herself unsupported by conventional medicine.
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"She began a journey of self-education to treat herself through nutrition.
"Her award-winning app, The Whole Pantry, is a phenomenal resource of recipes, wellness guides and personal support, and has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to change their diet and lifestyle."
Praised as an inspiration by her followers, Gibson championed the use of natural remedies over medication, claiming she had "countless times helped others" and guided them through "natural therapy for everything from fertility, depression, bone damage and other types of cancer".
She claimed to have donated a large proportion of her income and the money she conned out of her followers to cancer charities, which unsurprisingly turned out to be yet another lie.
When her book was released in 2014, Gibson's wholesale fraud began to unravel.
The book's preface stated she had been "stable for two years now with no growth of the cancer" — a claim contradicting what she'd previously told media outlets.
Writers Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano uncovered Gibson's lies about her sham charity donations, details which were then shared in their book The Woman Who Fooled the World.
In April 2015 Belle gave an interview to The Australian Women's Weekly, during which she admitted to fabricating her terminal health problems.
In September 2017, Gibson was fined $410,000 (£240,000) for making fraudulent claims about her charity donations.
In May 2021 Gibson's house was raided in an attempt to recoup the fine — which she had not paid up until that point.
A Consumer Affairs spokesperson said at the time: "A warrant of seizure and sale on Ms Gibson was executed today by Sheriff's Officers at an address in Northcote."
Gibson told the court that she was "not in a position" to pay.
Where is Belle Gibson now?
Since her web of lies was exposed, Gibson has unsurprisingly tried to keep out of the spotlight.
Belle does not appear on the ITVX documentary about her scam, but her older brother Nick gives a rare interview during the series.
Reports claim that during her time as a blogger, Gibson also told lies about her sibling, seemingly in order to make her home life seem more difficult than it actually was.
How can I watch The Search For Instagram's Worst Con Artist?
The full story of Gibson's fraud is untangled in The Search For Instagram’s Worst Con Artist.
You can watch the two-part docuseries, which is available to stream now, on ITVX.
Each episode is an hour long.
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The first covers Belle's rise to fame and the incredible discovery of her scheme.
The second delves deeper into Gibson's history of lies, including interviews with her brother and stepfather talking about her unusual childhood.
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