Mom Seeks Police Help Finding Woman in Suspected Cancer Scam
(NEW YORK) -- A mother says she will ask police to find the woman who she believes scammed her dying son.
Thomas Doty, 20, of Washington state, died on Dec. 19 after a three-year battle with bone cancer -- but not before a woman apparently scammed him and his family into believing a check for $250,000 was on the way.
Family friend Jonathan Hillstrand, star of the show "Deadliest Catch," made a video asking for support for Doty. A woman claiming to be a nurse in Indiana soon promised $250,000 to send him to San Diego, pay for experimental cancer treatments, and help the family save their house after the expense of caring for their son.
"This huge yellow bouquet of flowers showed up, [with a note] saying, 'No more worries,'" Tiffany Doty, Thomas's mother, told ABC News. "She sent me a text and an email, and it all started, saying, 'I saw your story, and my heart breaks, and I'm going to pay for all this treatment.'"
Tiffany Doty says the woman scammed her family for weeks -- always coming up with an excuse and phony proof that she had already sent the money, including snapshots of bank statements -- as they planned and eventually took Thomas to San Diego, planning to receive treatments.
"She was always out of town or out of the country, so it was always difficult for her to get things done, and then we sent the wire info, and that didn't happen because she got one number wrong, and it became obvious after a couple weeks that this is not happening," Tiffany Doty said. "That's when my sister just called the local news here ... and that's when we got a huge outpouring from the public and that was enough to get him down there."
Thomas Doty flew to San Diego hoping to receive experimental treatments not covered by the family's insurance, Tiffany Doty said. She blames the woman for lost time in addition to false hopes.
"When we started him down there he was just in a little bit of back pain," Tiffany Doty says of preparing to take her son to San Diego. "By the time we got him down there he was on 300 milliliter of morphine a day."
All the while, Tiffany Doty said she told the woman to let her know if the money wouldn't come, or if the woman had changed her mind about wanting to send it. Tiffany Doty said she received messages purportedly from the woman's mother -- messages she now believes were sent by the woman herself.
"She's never been a nurse anywhere in the United States that we can find. There's a lot of things that we've looked at, a lot of emails we've sent," Tiffany Doty told ABC News. "Nothing checks out at all, except that she's shut down her Twitter account, and things like that."
While Thomas and his family waited for the money, his condition worsened.
"Between the time of getting [to San Diego] and the time she wasted, there was another tumor growing that started out the size of a grape, and when the eight weeks went by it was the size of an orange," Tiffany Doty said.
Her son, she says, was crushed when they realized the money would never come.
Now, Tiffany Doty will go to police.
"The last thing he wanted is for her to be found and not to be able to hurt anyone else, and so that is my mission," Tiffyany Doty told ABC.
Her mother, Thomas's grandmother, has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tiffany Doty said.
"She just called to ask questions about the laws, and would they go after her, would they investigate," she said. "They indicated that there's something there to pursue."
Tiffany Doty says she plans to file a report with the local police. She believes the woman gave a fake name, she said, and that her family was scammed by someone who has been doing the same thing to other people for a long time.
"We are going to file charges," Tiffany Doty said. "I'm sure there are cyberstalking laws, fraud. I personally am just wiped out. I am beyond wiped out, but my son wanted her found, and he is not a vindictive person."
Aside from finding justice, the Doty family is facing immediate financial struggles and is asking the public for help. Through their website, HealThomas.com, they are asking for donations to help them save their home. Both Tiffany and her husband are out of work, she told ABC.
"We were a normal family," Tiffany Doty said. "We had great jobs, and two years worth of savings, everything that you need. Our house is going to be auctioned on Jan. 11."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio