A woman accused of staging her 10-year-old son's death told the child he was dying from leukaemia, a court heard.
Victoria Morrison, from Nevada, spent months faking the boy’s illness and then his death – complete with a fictitious memorial service, local authorities say.
The 31-year-old received gifts including a shopping spree, a helicopter ride for her ‘dying’ son and cash, according to a complaint filed on Wednesday.
Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong said Morrison also raised about $2,000 through a fundraising page she set up online.
She was charged with obtaining money by false pretences following her arrest last Friday at a motel, Mr Furlong added.
Her office had no comment on the case, Karin Kreizenbeck, who oversees the defense lawyers, said.
Morrison faces up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of both charges.
Her son was reportedly diagnosed with a treatable illness more than a year ago.
But Morrison used embellished medical information to convince her child, his school and the public that he was terminally ill, the sheriff said.
He said the child had missed months of school.
On a GoFundMe site, Morrison wrote that her “world fell apart” when she learned “my baby” had leukaemia. The post has since been removed from the site.
Her son "made a list of things he wants to do before he gets [too] sick, now it's my job to help him do just that," Morrison wrote.
"But I'm a single mom to three other kids and work. So please if you have a spare dollar help me help my son wishes and dreams come true."
The alleged scam escalated over the last month as "Morrison informed everyone, primarily through social media, that her son had died and his body had been cremated," Furlong said.
He said a fake memorial service was held earlier this month.
Investigators have no other suspects now but are trying to determine if other people were involved or knew the boy was alive while his mother was claiming he had died, Furlong said.
GoFundMe spokeswoman Katherine Cichy said Morrison has been banned from the site and that contributions made on behalf of the boy will be refunded to donors.
Ms Cichy said that less than one-tenth of one per cent of all campaigns are misused.
She added: "That said, there are unfortunate and rare instances where people create campaigns with the intention to take advantage of others."