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It has come to our attention that a community member going by the name of Anna Johns is in fact a girl named Abbie who fabricated her story. Anna Johns has now been removed from the site.
She has posted a message to a Facebook group accusing her of being a fake to confirm this:
I am so sorry to those of you who have spent time talking to, supporting and crying for Anna and her family.
Personally I was taken in by this story too. But I would always rather be tricked because I am too trusting, than fail to support someone who genuinely needs it because I am not trusting enough.
***I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all NEVER to share personal details, send money or swap Facebook account details. I would suggest that you never even tell people your real name.***
The person who has done this deserves our sympathy. Munchausen's by internet is a recognised condition and I hope that Abbie gets the help she needs. You may find this article in the Guardian helpful to explain a little about the thinking behind something like this.
We take your security very seriously on this site, but there is very little that we could put in place to prevent someone who is determined enough to create an entire false life from joining the site. You can protect yourselves by not sharing your contact details, however sure you are that someone is real and needs your help.
You can offer plenty of support via the Community site, and also remain totally safe and secure.
Once again, I understand how much sadness, disappointment and anger there will be around this, but please do not let it distract you from the main purpose of the site which is supporting each other. You all do such a fantastic job and it would be so sad if something like this managed to ruin that.
I don't use chat so I was not aware of 'Anna' and her fraud until I saw this post. I am so sorry that genuine, caring, supportive members on this site have had their kindness thrown back in their faces by such a manipulative person. Notwithstanding her obvious mental health issues, she has caused untold pain & upset. She has caused many to now be suspicious of the other members of this site, those that they have communicated with on a regular basis. I can only ask that, once the initial hurt & anger has subsided, that those who have considered leaving the site please take time out to think again - 99.9% of members are genuine and in need of support - please don't let the 0.1% of fakers & frauds shatter your belief in the goodness of your fellow members.
And Marsha - you know how much we think alike & have a strong sense when something just isn't quite 'right'. I also know why you were loathe to report your unconfirmed suspicions but your gut instinct has never yet let you down so if you have your suspicions in the future get a second opinion & then consider contacting Admin re their 'watch list' - if they are monitored & nothing comes to light it can't harm.
My best wishes go out to all who were ill-used and affected by this person. I hope you get through this with your faith in human nature intact and you continue to get the support you need on this site.
You are so right Nic we have been taken in good and proper I still cant get my head round it I still think there more people involved but that just me am still confused with it all
And at least we know a Child hasnt died from this cancer xx my thoughts to all the other children and there familys xxxx
love to you all
love Janice xx
I like so many of you still am unable to get my head around this awlful faker. Having gone through so much myself how can I have been so stupid not to of seen it. Have cottoned on to so many of the fakers in the past. But, the stuff she came out with was me re living the nightmares of my own childrens illness, though not a cancer but still a terminal illness (Juvenille Battens Disease). I could relate to the way she expressed her feeling and so much more. You will do anything to get your child better. Though have been a strong person in the past having to face my own childrens illness and watch them slowly die. The years of suffering hell unable to make them well I came out of it and managed to carry on with life. I was so lucky to have met my husband who was my back bone during this, he came into my life and was there for me, being on ones own is hard at a time like that. Then the cancer and my husband being ill was enough to tip me over but knew so many others out there suffer so much more, and had to get my head around what life throws up so much shit that to survive you have to get on with life, though that is not easy. But this Anna stuff has totally gutted me, and as I said in the begining I feel nothing for her. So many parents around the world who may be trying to get help for a child who had the same illness, reading annas blog and thinking maybe we could try that?
So sorry but for once in my life I am so unable to forgive such a wicked cruel faker.
How do I now know that folk on the mac site do not class me as a faker? I do hope not, as feel at least have helped a few in mac chat with help, and have met and made some solid friends.
My feelings go to everyone who has been conned by Abbie. She could no way have done this alone and I do hope justice is done to them all for the pain and suffering given to so many.
Sorry for my ramblings but so wound up over it.
Love and hugs to all the real genuine folk out there. xxx
Having spoken to an adviser in person on the Mac helpline (UK) and given all my details including address I am now on their computer system files, so if and when I phone they just bring up my file and know what’s wrong and where I live, when I joined this site a few months ago and found it so easy to join I thought it because they could click the mouse and say oh it’s Mr X he’s got such and such wrong with him, I am a bit surprised that you only have to give email adds that can be knocked up in two tics, being as this is such a serious illness giving your real name and address on registering with the site does not seem excessive to me and would go some way towards adding to security, in a recent local paper article a man was locked up for obtaining money by deception, pretending to be doing something for a local charity and asking to be sponsored for it, this is very similar, she, him or them! Got money or things of monetary value! The criminal age limit is Ten I think, not fourteen or seventeen and I have yet to meet anyone who does not try the sorry card after they are caught! Sorry no sympathy here!
Hope you don’t think me to harsh, well if you do I don’t care LOL
Lots of love and best wishes Kev
I have been on this site for around 3 years and I've seen this happen at least twice before. Once it ended with a member taking an overdose when he found out he'd been had. Whilst I acknowledge the perpetrators must have "something wrong" with them, it does not excuse the extreme emotional pain they cause to people.
They pick on sites like this, not because we are vulnerable exactly, but because our hearts are big and welcoming.
This site got me through my post brain surgery treatments and the chatroom was a lifeline. I admit, a lot of the people I met 3 years ago are now my facebook friends and I know they are real because I have been invited to at least 3 meets which I have not yet been able to get to. They post pictures of the events (all held in different area's of the country) so that those of us who couldn't get there, could still enjoy it. They are amazing people, who were all going through their own illness or caring for someone in the same situation, but they ALWAYS have time for others. This is what cancer does to you, it makes you open your heart and want to support humankind in any way you can.
At the end of the day, there will be more, I am a lot wiser and can usually sniff out a "wrongun" and am very picky who ends up with my email address (a separate one to my family addy) or on facebook, but it won't stop me wanting to help. I would rather be duped than ignore someone in real need.
That said, I am as angry & disgusted that this Abbie was able to continue her lie for 2 years and hurt so many people along the way. I do think she should be held accountable, sorry doesn't always cut it!
I hope people will continue to use the services of these communities who have helped us through tough times and continue to support those just joining. Lets just hope we are all a little wiser.
Love & Strength to all who want or need it xxx
I just cannot understand how are why anyone would go to such lengths with such an elaborate fraud. Although not involved at close quarters with 'Anna' I sensed the sadness that you all felt at the supposed death of Charly and felt a little of it too. Taking a step back it must be relatively rare for this sort of thing to happen so please don't start to be too suspicious of people in case someone in genuine need is overlooked. That said, I realise the immense hurt that a lot of people are feeling and I would like to offer my heartfelt sympathy to you all.
Like many of you I have been around a few years on this site, looking for help and reassurance after my mum was diagnosed. I found that in so many of you and you know who you are..... we've had crazy times here but also times where I really had no one else to talk to and you all got me through that.
"Anna" well what can I say we spoke quite a few times and I shared my story as she shared Charlys and I think many of you are right some how this can not be the work of a 15yr old she was far to knowledgable about the subjects in which we spoke.
I am still sitting here now not sure what to think I still cant believe this has happened I feel totally humiliated and feel I can not trust my own judgement. I've spent so much emotional and physical energy worrying over "Charly" and have spent many a sleepless night worrying incase she did not make it through the night. This energy could have been spent on my own mum and she has robbed me of that, she has robbed my mum too. My mum recieved an Easter Card two years ago from "Charly" I told my mum "Charly's" story and oh how my emotionally fragile mother cried when this child died. I have not yet told her she is fake. How can I? Seriously this would break her. But this is causing me to lie to my own mother. I am raw and I am am angry I'm sorry but this is how I feel, how else am I supposed to feel right now? Anyway I'm far to tired to get my head around any of this. Hopefully one day I will spend less time worrying about it all and concentrating on other things.
Take Care all
For the same reasons as Tiggs, I feel stupid and weak for believing this lie. I have a child of twelve who is worried for the future and my health deteriorating. She cried and cried when "Charly" died. How can anyone, who calls themselves human, do this to another person? This is now the third fake I have come up against since coming on Macmillan. I joined on the advice of my Macmillan nurse but this will be my last post. I would not be able to trust again and it defeats the object of such a forum, therefore, I will leave the others to be positive whilst, I, at the moment, cannot see ANYTHING positive in the situation!!! As a side issue, however, I am not sure if "Anna" has been in touch to apologise? If so, PLEASE do not respond. The police officer told me, yesterday that this may harm the investigation and also further the fraudulent activity. There is a crime number: Crime
reference number: NFRC111100289603 and the telephone number for the fraud hotline is 03001232040. If you have anything else to offer in connection to this crime, please ring them and ask for your crime number to be linked to that one. They also said that things like drawings by "Charly" are important too because this was a way to "groom" us. The other important thing is that those on caringbridge will recall the "Charly fun fund" being mentioned and the "Team Charly" bracelets. Again this was another way to get us round to the way of thinking that we could part with money. If any of you remember anything like this being said please ring the number. Thanks so much for the support you have given me but I now dont feel like I can be a positive member of this community. Karen
I am so glad this has all come out. I too was taken in by Anna until a few months or so ago when she put some vidoes on youtube that were obviously taken in the 1980's by the style of the house, furnishings and clothes. Once I saw these I had a sleepness night thinking that she could be fake. I was so ashamed of myself to think such a thing I just stopped contact with her rather than reporting it, in case I was wrong.
I was finally convinced she was fake with the latest photo of 'Charly' by the harbour on caring bridge. This photo was so obviously photoshopped.
Perhaps the little girl in this photos was actually the person who has been doing this when she was young. Or am I being too charitable.
The whole ongoing saga kept me away from the site.
I agree with the others who have saif that this person shouldn;t be allowed to get away with this.
I know she has now been banned from the site, but surely she can still view the posts and create a new log in and do it all again.
I don't believe her comments of not knowing how to stop. It would have been easy to stay off the site and not contact people.
These people make me so angry and they seem to be getting more bold each time.
Because of people like this, Ive stopped recommending the site.
Also site I used to visit sent me a letter the other day to say they had been targeted by hackers who have stolen users personal information and beacuse of that they've closed the original site and built another. So it looks like cancer support web sites are a favourite haunt.
Take care all and look after yourselves.
Well, I don't really know where to start!!! One morning last week I woke up to a comment on one of my photos regarding the Pink Nails Event we all done and seemingly something had kicked off the night before!!! Two days prior to this. I had left a comment On Anna Johns page and Caringbridge asking her to spend more time with Jack, Keith etc rather than focusing on a mission of a poster distribution via the Internet which really had to come from Charities Head Offices. I went to bed that same night feeling bad about saying that to Anna and felt I had not supported her properly in her grief. We all know then what happened.................. So many nights, days, of emotions all over the place, the whole world, Childrens Charities duped, etc etc etc. The name of the person who commented on my photos was certainly not Abbie but someone else and from a site which helped Parents of Neutroblastoma (Which was not a registered charity but a group set up to support each other. The Director of that page made a comment to myself also and then the Abbie appeared along with differing ages of 15 - 17 years and an admission from this girl who was to of been Anna and had made everything up. In asking further questions as to Who was behind the page everyone was being directed to re comments and emails flying about; The page was then pulled!!! Along with some others media was informed, then I was scapegoated by the Director of the Page re the group that was supporting Parents etc when I started asking to many awkward questions!!!!
I do not believe that it was supposedly a 15 - 17 yr old girl who acted alone, but more than one person. I do believe that the truth will come out and I hope that this girl or any other child will not be used as scapegoat to cover up everything. The Creator of the information and proof page has never been known, but was pulled so fast. Investigations had apparantly taken place and seemingly the Police and Fraud Squad could do nothing according to the Director!!! Now things have changed dramatically and further proper investigations are being held and gone through with a fine tooth comb.
Yes I agree that we should help support each other especially when some of us may not be strong enough at the moment to get through all this. But we will get through it.
I hated having to be made out a liar to my grand children when I found out as they joined in with the nail painting, but I was able to say that at least we done them for Children I Need Day as the date of the event coincided with Children In Need in Britain.
I am still trying to find my way round this new Mac Site and have also found this difficult and had to rely on my own family, friends to support me last week when I needed comfort etc. I am still very raw at the moment as well as trying to overcome severe chest infection and lower respiratory tract infection and have missed my Mac Friends so much and have it difficult to track them down as they are also having some difficulty finding their way around this site. We are slowly coming together and I was glad to see so many names I knew and have actually met personally on Chat tonight. xxx
My own operation that was due to be for this week, had to be cancelled due to my health. Hopefully I can pick up for the rescheduled appointment for assessment in early December.
I'm really impressed by the way everyone is dealing with this horrible matter. Your forgiving and accepting natures are a true credit to you, and to the site.
I would like to point out that no money ever went directly to this individual as far as I understand it - I don't think this matter was in any way financially motivated. For those of you who have donated money to charities for children's cancers, whilst extracted under false pretences, those cancers still exist, and are still under funded - so your donations will be gratefully received and honestly put to use.
Sadly the hurt we are all feeling seems to be manifesting itself as anger and a need for vengeance - I don't think this will help anyone. The person who has done this needs help to understand what motivated her to play on people's emotions for their own benefit. That won't be easy, and the person knows that they have acted appallingly - that knowledge, and all of your messages on here and other sites will stay with them for a long time.
The most positive thing we can do now is put it behind us and start to rebuild our Community and our trust in others.
Please don't think that by saying that I'm diminishing what you are all feeling, but I feel very strongly that we must try to move on now.
Looking at the Anna Johns affair in hindsight, I think everyone who was involved on this site should be very proud of the way they gave unquestioning support to this supposedly grieving mother. It is what the site is about.
So let's have no more negative talk and just get on with what the people on this site do very well, which is giving help and reassurance to people newly diagnosed with cancer and help and support for those continuing the battle.
There is no need for anyone to feel they need to leave this site; no one has done anything wrong.
It is natural that we are all going to be more cautious in helping new people, but providing we are careful not to get too involved and certainly never give away personal details or money then it won't matter. There are more genuine people out there than fraudsters and they need our help.
I cannot Believe it. Anna ( Abbie) had me sucked in for 2 years.
I only found out yesterday when i was on the site so have been reading the many Blogs this morning ( New Zealand time )
Many may be more understanding than myself , But this is so sick and i hope that she is charged.
Jill D. New Zealand
I am just gutted :(
I understand Nic. I was lucky in that I never met Anna. I was affected when I read her blog, but not as deeply had I been following the story from the beginning.
I can only send big hugs to those of you who are hurting.
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