In March 2015 – nearly two years to the month after formally registering her business The Whole Pantry, and over a year after landing a book deal worth $125,000 – The Age journalists Beau Donelly and Nick Toscano began hearing whispers not all was how it seemed in the case of wellness blogger Belle Gibson.
They had heard from five people within her “inner circle” that some had doubts about her terminal cancer diagnosis. These whispers would take them on an investigation that proved Gibson, then 27, had faked her illness and fraudulently acquired funds from her book and app on the promise of donating the money to charity.
In their book, The Woman Who Fooled the World: Belle Gibson’s Cancer Con and the Darkness at the Heart of the Wellness Industry, the journalists detailed the moment they sent Gibson an email, asking why she had not donated to the charities she said she supported. They also pressed Gibson on her cancer diagnosis.
In total, they sent 21 questions in an email was delivered at 3.20pm on a Thursday.
"Gibson immediately hit the phones," the two write of the moment she received the email. "At 3.30pm, she called the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. She spoke to its director of fundraising, apologised for the misunderstanding, and promised to pay $20,000.