Munchausen by Charity: A New Syndrome?

February 1, 2016; Fox News Health

Munchausen syndrome is a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves. (Wikipedia)

 

We have all seen stories of individuals who fake being terminally ill and then receive the crowdsourced donations of well-wishers (in fact, the Huffington Post has a small collection of these online here), but this particular story is a little different, since Seattle resident Tracy Dart did not raise the money for herself but for breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen. Dart has become a Seattle cancer advocate and fundraiser, saying that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer herself—three times. Long story short, in the past ten years, she managed to raise more than $400,000, helped by “Team Tracy.” (The “Team Tracy” page on Komen’s website has since been pulled down.)

One car dealer who was a supporter was informed by a member of Tracy’s team that she had never had cancer, but he isn’t angry. “I would say she needs help and I hope she gets it,” he said. Judging by the media, he seems to reflect the charitable view of the community to the case.

Apparently, Dart’s family had been in touch with the Susan G. Komen Foundation with concerns about Tracy’s illness or lack thereof. The foundation says that Dart never received money in return for her efforts, but she could potentially be prosecuted for raising money for charity under false pretenses.—Ruth McCambridge