"She was profiting from a web of lies": Belle Gibson's former friend Chanelle McAuliffe on how she exposed the Instagram scammer

Belle Gibson was found to have scammed her followers by pretending to have cancer (Image via IMDb)
Belle Gibson was found to have scammed her followers by pretending to have cancer (Image via IMDb)

Australian wellness influencer Belle Gibson's scams will be detailed in ITV's new documentary, Instagram's Worst Con Artist. In light of the upcoming film, her former friend Chanelle McAuliffe recounted the exact moment she realized Gibson was scamming thousands of people by faking cancer to boost her wellness brand.

In an exclusive interview with Fab Daily, McAuliffe recalled how Belle Gibson convulsed to the floor with seizures one day. When McAuliffe screamed for someone to call for an ambulance, Gibson miraculously recovered and insisted she was fine. This incident, which sowed the seeds in McAuliffe's mind to second-guess her friend's supposed illness, inspired her to shed light on the scam.

"She [Gibson] was profiting from a web of lies she was spinning by targeting vulnerable people and it just made my blood boil. She was misleading people on such a major level. They were choosing to eat fruit and veg over medical treatment," McAuliffe said.

Chanelle McAuliffe detailed the red flags raised by Belle Gibson's web of lies

Chanelle McAuliffe and Belle Gibson forged a quick friendship when the two met through mutual friends in October 2014, just a year after the latter launched her Instagram page @healing_belle on Instagram in 2013.

According to The Mirror, the page, which had over 300,000 followers before the deception was revealed, detailed Gibson's journey through her alleged terminal brain cancer diagnosis in 2009 and how she battled her illness using unconventional treatments and healthy food.

The page became an inspiration for several women afflicted with cancer, who were inspired by Belle Gibson's stories and followed her wellness treatment in a bid to recover.


Following their meeting, McAuliffe and Gibson grew to become close friends. The latter invited the former to press events and to her home in the affluent Melbourne suburbs of Eldwood. But, as months flew by, McAuliffe grew more suspicious of the influencer, who seemed to love partying and excessive drinking, unlikely of someone recovering from cancer.

After the alleged seizure, McAuliffe was shocked to find out that Belle Gibson had posted on social media that her cancer had relapsed.

“I started to question everything, to go over it all in my mind. She always looked so well, she never looked sick. I started to think about times where she had gone on tanning beds and another time when we went to a nightclub and she was ordering shots and drinks," McAuliffe said.

She continued:

“I said to Belle, ‘This is not good’. But she said, ‘I’m going to die soon anyway. Why not have some fun?’ Those weren’t things she was sharing with her online community. Things just didn’t add up for me.”

Chanelle McAuliffe confronted Belle Gibson about her cancer diagnosis

Emboldened by her suspicions, McAuliffe confided in another friend, and the two drove to Gibson's house to confront her. In the interview, McAuliffe claimed that Belle Gibson looked bewildered, and kept insisting that she did have cancer.

When her friends asked her to show her medical documents, Belle Gibson refused, claiming she didn't keep them in the house due to their "negative energy." McAuliffe also claimed that Gibson got defensive and aggressive, asking her to "f*ck off."


By that point, McAuliffe was convinced that her friend was a liar and scammer and took it upon herself to expose her secrets. According to The Mirror, she reached out to several journalists, police officers, and lawyers, who warned her of the seriousness of the allegations and accused her of defaming a young sick single mother.

“With no proof, nobody would believe me. A lawyer accused me of defaming her. I couldn’t sleep. I knew someone was out there doing harm though, so I couldn’t stop. For six months to a year I was fighting to get her lies exposed. I spoke to lawyers and that cost me money. I spent hours co-working with journalists. I was just so hell-bent on stopping her.”

As per The Daily Mail, a journalist from The Age reached out to McAuliffe and the pair worked together to dismantle Gibson's carefully concocted stories. The final nail in the coffin was Belle Gibson's false donations to several charities, which saw the public turn against her.

Finally, in April 2015, Belle Gibson came clean and, in an interview with Australia Women’s Weekly, revealed that she was never diagnosed with cancer, saying:

“No… None of it’s true. I don’t want forgiveness. I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do."

In the interview, Chanelle McAuliffe sympathized with Belle Gibson's victims, calling the scammer a "wolf in sheep's clothing." Belle Gibson was fined £240,000 by the Federal Court in 2017 and later came forward to claim that she did not have the funds to pay, despite going on lavish vacations and shopping sprees.

As per the Mirror, she has a debt of more than £257,000 in fines, penalties, and interest, and currently resides in the Melbourne area. Gibson's social media pages have been deactivated since news of her scam broke.

The two-part ITV documentary, Instagram's Worst Con Artist, will broadcast on ITV1 at 9 pm on April 25 and May 2.

Quick Links

App download animated image Get the free App now