Australian cookbook author Belle Gibson was fined $320,000

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This is a huge fine because she made deceptive claims of donating the proceeds from the sales of “The Whole Pantry” and a related app constituted unconscionable conduct under Australian consumer law. Gibson built a public profile since 2013 around her claim through her book, Instagram and Facebook accounts that she was diagnosed with brain cancer as a 20-year-old and was given four months to live. In 2015 she admitted never had cancer.

Belle-Gibson
Belle Gibson

“One of the clear demonstrations of the dishonesty and self-interest attending Ms. Gibson’s conduct was the fact she and the company she controlled did not in fact make any donations to the organizations she had mentioned in her publicity statements until public questioning of her claims,” judge Debra Mortimer said in Federal Court Justice considering five contraventions. In fact, Ms. Gibson and the company she controlled did not make any donations to the organizations she had mentioned in her publicity statements until public questioning of her claims. Mortimer said Gibson’s failure to attend any of the civil court hearings showed she did not take any responsibility for her conduct. Gibson’s company is now in liquidation. Gibson has snubbed the civil proceedings and has not even been represented by a lawyer.Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz said Gibson’s actions were careless and dangerous, targeted at people with cancer looking for a ray of hope. Gibson has until 4pm on October 5 to apply to the court to go on a payment plan.

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