A Utah mother will have to answer to a felony fraud charge after police alleged she bilked donors out of thousands of dollars by pretending her daughter was battling leukemia.
Abreail Winkler, 30, was charged on Tuesday with one count of communications fraud, according to Keith Campbell, assistant chief of the Vernal Police Department. He said the charge was filed after a month-long investigation in July.
Winkler has not yet entered a plea and attempts to reach her at listed phone numbers were unsuccessful. Her first court appearance was scheduled for Sept. 9.
According to Campbell, Winkler tugged at the heartstrings of her Vernal, Utah, community by telling people her 4-year-old daughter was battling leukemia. She was allegedly able to use the ruse to collect more than $3,000 in donations, Campbell said.
Winkler’s ex-husband, Derick Winkler, told investigators he had no knowledge of any cancer treatment or a diagnosis for his daughter, according to Campbell.
The 4-year-old girl is now living with Derick Winkler, who said he was shocked by the alleged scam but is ready to forgive for the sake of his daughter, according to the Deseret News.
“I just want the court system to run its course,” Winkler said.
He added that he hopes his ex-wife receives “just a slap on the wrist.”
If convicted, the Deseret News reported, Winkler could face up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.