True or false: Belle Gibson's claims examined

Kristine Tarbert

Cancer con-woman Belle Gibson has offically been ordered to pay $410,000 by Justice Debbie Mortimer in the Federal Court in Melbourne for her deceit of millions of Australians.

The wellness scammer, and founder of The Whole Pantry, was exposed as a fraud just over two years ago after it was revealed that Belle had been lying about claims of giving money from the business to charity and cracks started to appear in her story about having brain cancer.

Earlier this year she was officially found to have mislead vulnerable Aussies with her story, after Consumer Affairs Victoria brought legal action against her.

Belle Gibson has been fined $410,000. Photo: Facebook

In 2013 a then fresh-faced 23-year-old was somehow able to convince millions of people she was miraculously healing her terminal brain cancer through healthy eating and natural therapies. Her story captivated the nation.

Her story was going global and people were going mad over her wellness app and cookbook, which was launched in November 2014.

Belle's claim: In the preface of her book Belle claimed she’d been diagnosed with "malignant brain cancer" in June 2009 and given just "six weeks" to live "four months tops."

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Belle Gibson launched The Whole Pantry brand off the back of her claims. Photo: Facebook

She went on to say after two months of chemotherapy and radiation she gave up on conventional treatment and set out on "a quest to heal myself naturally and had now been "stable for two years now with no growth of the cancer".

She had also told media outlets around that time that the cancer had reached her liver and kidneys, and just months earlier she’s posted to The Whole Pantry's Facebook page that her cancer had spread to her blood, spleen, brain and uterus.

Truth: In an April 2015 interview with the Australian Women's Weekly, Belle finally admitted that "no. None of it's true."

Belle Gibson's story first started circulating in 2013. Photo: Facebook

Shortly after she appeared on 60 Minutes, where it was revealed that in 2011 Belle had actually undergone a brain scan at the Alfred hospital in Melbourne, which showed she was perfectly healthy.

Yet she maintained she believed she had cancer until then – claiming a German alternative medicine practitioner wrongly diagnosed her in 2009, and went ahead with releasing the app and book.

Belle Gibson was found to have deceived vulnerable Australians. Photo: Facebook

Belle's claim: Belle also told how how she had undergone several heart surgery operations and even died once on the operating table. She also claimed to have had a stroke.

Truth: But when things started to unravel she was unable to substantiate any of her medical claims. It was also found that she had no scars from any heart surgery.

Belle Gibson also lied about donating money to charity. Photo: Facebook

Belle's claim: She claimed that $300,000 from sales of her app were donated to maternal health, cancer research, schools in Africa, and Australian organisations including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and One Girl.

Truth: A Fairfax investigation revealed that this wasn’t true and when confronted in early 2015, Belle admitted that she had overestimated the amounts, and subsequent reports revealed only about $7,000 of the previous $300,000 claims had actually been donated to three charities.

As her empire came crashing down, Belle continued to show no remorse for what she had done, claiming she fell victim herself to a misdiagnosis.

“I am still jumping between what I think I know and what is reality,” she told The Weekly. “I have lived it and I’m not really there yet.”

“I lived for years with the fear that I was dying and I’m still coming to terms with [the fact] I can take that off my shoulders now,” was what she said to Tara Brown.

Belle's claim: In her AWW interview Belle said her compulsive lying came from her childhood upbringing, specifically blaming neglect by her now-estranged mother.

She claimed growing up with a mother who had multiple sclerosis and a brother who was autistic, forced from the age of five to become her mother’s primary carer and do all the housework and grocery shopping.

Truth: But in a May 2015 interview with the same magazine, Belle's mother Natalie Dal-Bello refuted those claims, although the she did in fact have MS. It turns out Belle's brother - also interviewed for the magazine - is not autistic.

“I can’t tell you how embarrassed we are about what she has done. And we sincerely wish to apologise to anyone who was deceived by Belle. For what small part we played in her life, we would like to say sorry,” Natalie told the publication.

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