Fake wellness guru yet to pay $410K fine
Consumer fairs Victoria is considering all legal options.
Cancer con artist Belle Gibson is yet to pay her $410,000 fine for duping Aussie consumers, six months after it was imposed by the Federal Court.
The fake wellness guru was fined in September for five contraventions of Australian Consumer Law, and had a week to ask the courts if she could pay in instalments.
But inquiries this week revealed the woman – described scathingly at the time by Federal Court Justice Debra Mortimer as having a “relentless obsession with herself” – has failed to pay up.
Gibson claimed she had brain cancer, healed herself with natural remedies and lied to well-meaning consumers that she would donate money from her Whole Pantry app and book sales to various charities, including a boy with inoperable brain cancer.
A spokesman for Consumer Affairs Victoria, which brought the action, says it is considering all legal options.
“The Federal Court has strict procedures regarding enforcement of its orders. Consumer Affairs Victoria is following this process while considering all legal options available in respect to the orders,” he told AAP.
Enforcement may include issuing an order to seize and sell property or possessing land or goods.
Although Gibson received $440,500 from sales of her app and book, she only donated about $10,000 to charity.
She and her company Inkerman Road Nominees – which was placed in liquidation – only began making the small donations after the media began questioning her claims.
In handing down her judgment, Justice Mortimer said Gibson not only tried to garner sympathy for her own claimed cancer, but promoted herself as generous and selfless so people would buy her products.
The judge said her failure to apologise or attend any of her court hearings showed she again placed her own interests ahead of others.
“If there is one theme or pattern which emerges through her conduct, it is her relentless obsession with herself and what best serves her interests,” she said.
Even after being put on notice during an interview with publisher Penguin – who offered her a book advance – that there were likely to be real questions about her charitable giving, Gibson continued the lies.
At the time, Consumer Affairs Victoria acting director Elizabeth Lanyon said the penalty showed that those seeking to profit from deceptive, misleading or unconscionable conduct would be held to account.
The maximum penalty Gibson could have faced was $1.1 million.
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