An Albany woman who raised thousands of dollars online for cancer treatment before allegedly faking her death on social media appeared very much alive in an Albany courtroom this week. Abbey Arthur, who is well-known in professional wrestling circles and had made a name for herself as a trusted wrestling columnist, faced a judge relating to an October DUI. But this story isn’t about driving under the influence.
Despite Arthur’s role as a wrestling columnist, this tale has nothing to do with wrestling. It is a Lifetime movie-in-waiting, complete with elaborate twists and turns. The DUI is part of the story, as are Arthur’s claims about her cancer and the strange moment when her Twitter followers learned of her demise. Let’s start with a little bit of back story.
Act I: Abbey’s Announcement
Arthur started building her reputation as a wrestling writer and columnist and amassed a large following on Twitter. She got to know several influencers and fans online and made a name for herself. In 2017, Arthur announced to her followers that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Of course, this shocked many of her loyal followers, who reacted just as most people would react to a friend who received such tragic news. They were ready and willing to help in any way they could.
Arthur set GoFundMe and YouCaring accounts that would allow anyone who wanted to help her afford life-saving treatment, to send donations her way. Through these and other campaigns, Arthur raised about $10,000 in contributions to help her cause.
Act II: A Picture And A Thousand Words
It didn’t take long for Arthur’s story to start to unravel. She began posting pictures of her treatments. Some of the photos included an arm with an IV attached, and scars from her various procedures. Astute followers pointed out that Arthur may not have been forthright and that the photos might not actually be of her.
Around Feb. 11 of this year, her Twitter followers began to question her claims and got to work. An anonymous tip was sent to the Twitter account @LLamaofTruth to look into the claims. They produced a video analyzing the photos and the claims Arthur had made up to that point.
Photos of Arthur prior to her cancer diagnosis revealed a tattoo on her arm. The tattoo was not present in the IV photo, and both photos bore striking resemblances to other photos available on blogs elsewhere on the Internet. The photos were traced back using Google to another cancer victim and a person with an autoimmune disorder. They did not originate with Arthur.
Facing skepticism from her followers, Arthur produced a letter from her doctor at Cancer Treatment Center of America to prove that she had cancer.
Unfortunately, the letter contained an incorrect phone number, was riddled with misspellings and was signed by a doctor who was not actually employed at the practice on the letterhead until months after the letter was dated. In addition, the doctor’s letter was printed on the back of another letter, which could be seen with photo editing software. The letter Arthur intended to prove her cancer did not convince her critics. However, that didn’t end the story.
Act III: The Curtain Closes
As pressure mounted against her cancer claims, the following tweet was sent from her account Feb.17 at 7:06 p.m.
After this, the account sent several tweets condemning those who questioned Arthur’s story, and produced yet another letter from Arthur’s doctor, in which he candidly admitted he may in some way have been at fault for her death, but that it was more likely she was stressed out due to her detractors on social media.
Act IV: She’s Alive
As it turns out, Abbey Arthur isn’t dead and according to WALB, a news station in Albany, she has never received treatment from Cancer Treatment Center of America and according to prosecutors, has no medical records on file there.
Arthur had previously asked the judge to delay her hearing so that she could receive cancer treatment, and reportedly blames the DUI on her cancer drugs.
According to WALB, Arthur produced documentation she claimed was from Cancer Treatment Center of America to prove her cancer claims, but the judge found all of the documents to be forgeries. The judge also asked to see Arthur’s wounds from her procedures, and said bubblegum appeared to have been used to make the scars.
The judge has ordered Arthur to undergo a mental health evaluation before she can be sentenced for the DUI.
Finale: On Feb. 27, 2019 Abbey Arthur pleaded guilty to first degree forgery and theft by deception. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, two of which will be served in prison.
Originally Published Feb. 21, 2018. Updated March 23, 2018 and Feb. 27, 2019.