Carol Lynn Schnuphase, from Michigan, US, shaved her son's hair and eyebrows and drugged his food to make it appear he was having chemotherapy. She then tried to solicit money from wellwishers to pay for his 'treatment'.
Her Facebook page was used to get sympathy donations. One post read 'Christopher now knows he's dying'.
Church groups helped fundraising activities and local businesses were canvassed for donations which Schnuphase said would pay for life-saving treatment. She reportedly accepted $7,000 in donations that had been collected by a church.
Her ruse was so convincing that even members of Shnuphase's own family thought the boy had cancer. They only became suspicious when she told them that her son had died and that she had decided against a funeral.
James Berlin, deputy chief of Roseville Police in Michigan said Schnuphase kept up the deception over a period of several months. He said wellwishers had been tricked into parting with their money.
'They were duped. they felt they were helping out a mother and her son. People want to think the best of other people.'
Deputy Berlin said the boy did not know he was being used as part of a scam.
Shcnuphase has been charged with child abuse and two counts of accepting money under false pretences and faces up to 14 years in prison.
Her son has been placed with foster parents.
What sort of a mother would do this?