In the two and a half years we’ve been serving as an itchy boil on GoFundMe’s ass covering the not-so-rare cases of fraud on its platform, we’ve come across some pretty unsavory people. Moms making their kids sick, parents who killed their kid putting up funeral fundraisers in the thousands of dollars, family members and friends running off with money raised for people in accidents, you name it. But this lady you’re about to meet absolutely takes the cake. Literally, if there were cake in front of her right now that wasn’t hers, she would take it.
Everyone, allow me to introduce you to Angela Corson Smith. The Billings, MT woman first appeared in federal court back in 2013 for a laundry list of naughty things, including running a phony medical billing “investment” company and defrauding a bank to get a $27,300 home equity loan by forging her husband’s name. She was also accused of impersonating a nurse but local law enforcement did not pursue charges.
She was sentenced in May 2014 to 27 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and $151,000 in restitution. Her supervised release began in July 2016.
Now, you’d think at this point she’d try to get her life together having had all that time to reflect on her choices in prison and knowing that probation officers would be up her ass but nah.
Smith was again arrested this past March 22 and back in court after probation officers alleged that she failed to make restitution payments, did not obey the conditions of her supervised release, and “violated computer use and internet access restrictions” placed upon her. All told, she was accused of 13 different probation violations.
In 2012, Smith told the credit union from which she obtained a fraudulent home equity loan that her daughter had died of leukemia; her daughter was never sick. And now probation officers say while on supervised release, Smith created a GoFundMe campaign with a $5000 goal by “falsely portraying her newborn child had severe medical issues and upcoming surgeries.” She gave birth to a preemie son back in November.
When she returned to federal court in May on the probation violations, U.S. District Judge Susan Watters revoked her supervised release and sent her back to prison for a term of 10 months.
On the morning of the hearing, Smith’s lawyer filed a motion to close the proceedings to the public citing “sensitive mental and medical health information” Smith wanted to keep private, which was rejected by the judge.
Wrote the Billings Gazette Editorial Board in an opinion piece:
Luckily, that was not necessary because Watters made the important and correct decision: Shutting the people out of a United States courtroom (let’s repeat that: United States courtroom) was a bad idea. Furthermore, the defense had presented absolutely no basis for closing the hearing, and Watters pointed out criminal court proceedings often have information about medical, mental and personal information. That’s the nature of court itself.
We appreciate Watters’ decision because it didn’t deprive the public from knowing what is happening with Corson Smith who, since her release from the federal Bureau of Prisons, took $250 from her employer in Great Falls before quitting, started an unauthorized GoFundMe campaign, and posed as a former Air Force medic. In other words, the federal judge did not shut out the public when clearly the public was at risk by Corson Smith’s freedom.
At the May 8 hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek urged the judge to send Smith back to prison, despite the fact that her last term “didn’t slow Ms. Smith down at all,” she said.
Smith told the court she had no idea how difficult supervised release would be.