KENT COUNTY, Mich., (April 16, 2014) Strangers reached into their pockets donating thousands of dollars to Carrie Higbee after hearing she needed a life-saving medical procedure.
But she is now charged with a felony, larceny under false pretenses.
We first introduced you to Higbee last fall after being contacted by her neighbor Heidi Hoort. Hoort is now saying she feels duped and taken advantage of after she just wanted to help.
“It makes people not want to help anymore because it’s done that for me. You’re scared to do anything for anybody now, you think you’re doing something right and you’re not,” she said.
Higbee claimed she had weeks to live if she didn’t have heart surgery, but couldn’t afford the $2,500, blaming her insurance.
After Hoort contacted us we went to interview Higbee and a Chase bank account was set up on her behalf. But after our story aired several people starting contacting FOX 17 accusing Higbee of making up medical conditions in the past.
Some people even called the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, who then launched an investigation.
We followed up with Higbee back in November, confronting her about the allegations and she maintained her innocence.
“I have never done anything to get money for myself or my family. This has been people who know me and know this is the truth,” she told us back in November.
But a probable cause affidavit tells a different story. It says investigators obtained search warrants for her medical records which indicated the information she provided to us was false.
The report says she denied any fraud and had misspoken during the news interview. In court Wednesday, the judge asked her if she had a medical condition.
“The reasoning for this was heart problems which we did end up finding after the fact that this was caused from the medication I was taking,” she told the judge.
Investigators say the Chase Bank Account at its highest balance was just over $7,000 and one person donated $2,500. The complaint lists 17 victims.
Hoort says she regrets ever trying to help and hopes those who donated get their money back.
“I really don’t know what to think about the whole situation. I just feel bad for everybody that’s helped and gave. I thank you that you opened up your heart and I’m sorry that it’s come to this,” Hoort said.
Higbee was released on bond and will be back in court next week. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or restitution.
Higbee has no previous criminal record.