VALLEY CENTER, Calif. - A 19-year old with a rare form of bone cancer is the victim of a hoax after a mysterious woman offered to pay his medical bills.
"She's a very sick person who did a very sick thing to a young man fighting for his life," said Tiffany Doty, whose son, Thomas, has osteosarcosis.
Thomas has not responded to surgery or chemotherapy.
Tiffany Doty brought her son to Valley Center for a holistic approach to his care at the pH Miracle Center, but because of money troubles, the family has only enough money to pay for two weeks of treatment. Doty said her son needs eight weeks of treatment.
The family thought Thomas' treatment was being paid for by a woman who called herself Jonnica Ellis. Ellis saw an online video featuring Captain Johnathan Hillstrand of the reality TV show "The Deadliest Catch." In that video, the reality star asks people to help pay for Thomas' cancer treatments.
Ellis sent an email to Doty that said she was so touched by the video that she was sending a check for $250,000 to cover the cost of treatment. Ellis even sent Thomas flowers with a card that read: "Just a little something to make you smile. Things will get better for you and your family, you have my word and promise. Keep your head up sweetie! - Jonnica Ellis"
For eight weeks, Doty received emails and phone calls from Ellis, who claimed there was a bank problem, a delivery problem, even a death in the family.
Doty said it was wasted time that delayed Thomas' treatment. She even turned down other programs that offered help because she thought Ellis would keep her promise.
"I think she should be ashamed of herself," said Doty. "I hope that somebody finds out who she really is so she can't continue. Who knows how many other people she's done this to?"
The family is now resuming its fundraising efforts while Thomas tries to regain his faith in other people.
"She completely crushed his spirit," said Doty.
To find out more about Thomas' story, or to make a donation, go to HealThomas.com.