At one point in the TV show Shameless, the father, Frank, tells his son Carl that he has cancer, in an effort to exploit him for money. The show is called Shameless after all. One mother, Emily Creno-King, from Ohio believed that such a scheme could actually work, fooling the general public, friends, and even family into thinking that her 5-year-old son had terminal brain cancer in order to receive donations.

Since December 2012, Creno-King told basically everyone she knew that her son J.J. was dying of cancer. Through Facebook, she received thousands of dollars in donations and updated followers about her son’s “condition.” No one was spared in Creno-King’s elaborate ruse, even her son, according to the Daily Mail.

Creno-King went so far as shaving her son's head and forcing him to wear a surgical mask in order to make his illness look real. She also took him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he received 20 blood tests and stayed for what amounted to more than 150 hours of inpatient monitoring.

“Emily has been so brave, courageous, and a true fighter during her struggle,” her now disabled Facebook page, “Champions for the Creno Family,” read. “She has a drive that only a mother fighting for her children can have, and it shows through every moment of every day… Through it all, Emily has not once asked for material or monetary donations, only prayers.”

Creno-King’s plan was so devious that even her estranged husband was fooled. “There was always a doubt in my mind,” John Creno told NBC4. “But once all the medicines started coming with him on weekends, I thought, ‘Okay, he really does have it.” These medicines were actually for seizures that Creno-King told doctors J.J. was having.

Creno-King’s scam was discovered when a suspicious mother, whose daughter had leukemia, began to ask Creno-King questions for which she had no answers. Creno-King would also delete people from the Facebook page if they began asking too many questions. Creno-King was arrested soon after on charges of endangering her child.

“Officers received a letter from Nationwide Children’s Hospital regarding the welfare of the boy, age four (at the time). According to the letter, the defendant repeatedly took (the boy) to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to be seen for symptoms such as seizures and difficulty breathing. Each time (the boy) was brought into the hospital; staff was unable to find any signs or symptoms of medical distress. According to the letter, the action and care for her son is considered Medical Child Abuse.”

Creno-King is due for a mental health evaluation, and her children are now in the custody of a different relative. Her husband says that the scheme could have been developed as a way to get back at him after the two had separated, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.