Botox mom isn't the only one making her kid play along with a scam: 3 other famous hoaxes

BotoxBotox Mom Kerry Campbell—a.k.a. Sheena Upton—talks to (Photo from TMZ)The Botox Mom-a.k.a. Sheena Upton, who told the world that she gave her 8-year-old daughter Botox injections to make her a better child beauty pageant contestant-has appeared in a set of cringe-inducing videos over at TMZ in an attempt to prove that she never actually gave her daughter Botox. While she's offering up copies of the script she says she was told to read for the "role" of Kerry Campbell (and while the reporters who interviewed her in The Sun, "Good Morning America," and "Inside Edition" scramble for an explanation) the bottom line is that she deliberately duped a lot of people for money-and forced her child to go along with it.

But she isn't the only parent who has made his or her child play a part in a scam. Here are three recent examples of hoaxes where the parents got caught-and the kids ended up paying the price.

The Balloon Boy scam

In October 2009, the world watched, horrified, as news crews tracked a large metallic balloon floating high up in the Colorado sky. A distraught couple, Richard and Mayumi Heene, said their 6-year-old son, Falcon, was trapped inside.

Authorities raced to recover the balloon, which dropped into a field. But when they got there, no one was inside. The boy was later found to be hiding in his parents' garage. But when CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked him why he didn't come out when he heard his parents calling his name, Faclon looked at his parents and said, "You guys said we did this for the show," causing viewers to do spit-takes and the boy's parents to spin a quick cover-up of their son's statement.

A few days later, Sheriff Jim Alderden of Larimer County declared the incident to have been "a hoax" and "a publicity stunt" pulled off by parents hoping to rocket themselves into reality-TV-show fame. The family had previously appeared on "Wife Swap," and had approached TLC with an idea for a show months earlier. During an interview with "The Today Show," the poor kid was so nervous and upset that he threw up live on air during the interview, while his parents kept talking, insisting that they were innocent.

Richard Heene ended up pleading guilty in November 2009 to one felony count of attempting to influence a public servant, a reference to his deliberately misleading the police during the incident, and did jail time in 2010. Mayumi Heene admitted that Falcon was safe in their home the whole time; she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false reporting to authorities and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

The my-teenager-has-cancer scam

Alicia and Steven Kelly. (Photo: and Steven Kelly. (Photo:

Alicia and Steven Kelly told their 15-year-old daughter that she had bone cancer and made her take blood pressure medication for more than a year, telling her that the pills were live-saving chemotherapy.

"A few months into it, the daughter figured out she didn't have cancer," Major John Murray of the Greenwood, South Carolina, Sheriff's office told ABC News in February. The girl was too afraid to confront her parents, who were using their daughter's "illness" to solicit money from friends, family members, and strangers, blogging about her daily struggles, holding fundraisers for the teen, and raising money through The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

It wasn't the only scam they were running. The couple, who have four other children, were also supposed to be taking care of Alicia's elderly grandfather at the time; instead, they left him to die in a camper while they cashed his Social Security checks for 18 months.

In February, the mom was arrested for writing bad checks; while being interviewed by the police, she admitted that her daughter had never had cancer, and then confessed that her grandfather was "dead in a local trailer out in the county," Murray said. Police estimate that he had been dead for more than a year.

The "Extreme Makeover" scam

It seemed like a wonderful blessing for two young girls with a horrible disease. In May 2009, Chuck and Terri Cerda were featured on an episode of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," talking about how their daughters Molly (now 10) and Maggie (now 8) suffered from Combined Immune Deficiency Disease. They described all of the complicated precautions they had to take to protect their daughters; they couldn't go to church or school, they said, and they needed face masks to filter out mold and allergens indoors and out.

"Molly, in the old house, she would be coughing, hacking wheezing, having episodes where her lungs would actually shut down and we'd have to put her on a nebulizer to get them back up," Chuck Cerda told the Las Vegas Sun.

The "Extreme Makeover" team demolished the Cerdas' old home and built them a new, state-of-the-art mansion with a gourmet kitchen, an elevator, a solar-heated swimming pool and high-end air filters to purify the air inside the home. Hundreds of people were involved in the construction, from volunteers who helped build it to stores that donated everything from furniture to musical instruments and thousands of dollars worth of lessons for the girls.

"Our life is going to be different because the air inside this house is completely clean," their daughter Molly said. "That helps my lungs and will make us even healthier, to the point where we might not have to wear masks anymore."

But a few months after moving in, the Cerdas put the house up for sale, saying they couldn't keep up with payments on the new place because of their daughters' medical bills. They moved to Oregon, where several pediatricians couldn't find anything wrong with the girls. One doctor reported Terri Cerda to child welfare services, which ended up taking temporary custody of the girls. The Cerdas eventually regained custody of their children, though the judge called the mother's insistence that the girls were at risk of death "obsessive and unjustifiable."

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