He Was the Face of a Bike-a-thon to Fight Cancer. He Was Also a Fake.

After John Looker announced he had brain cancer, he became a star fund-raiser and the heart of Pelotonia, a charity event in Ohio that raises millions of dollars. But something wasn’t right.

Comments: 254

  1. This is about the need for acclaim, approval, connection, all mixed with mania, not very much about the money, because apparently most that he was involved in raising did go to Peletonia. Hard (impossible, from my perspective) to believe that he fooled a real partner, however. Hope he can appreciate how his lies were so hurtful to people like Lily, who went through grueling treatment). Not impressed by an organization which accepts outsized claims without any verification.

  2. For patient advocacy organizations, there is nothing more important than integrity. Without integrity, trust is gone. I'm afraid that the real damage here is much broader than just one individual or one organization. And it's a sad reflection on the direction our society is going.

  3. As a runner who has done races for the past 30 years I always am suspect of the "100% of donations go to charity" sales gimmick. Usually tagged onto that 1200 that you are forced to raise is a hefty "Admin fee" raising the total cost of the race to you. I mean, these things cant be held for free. Then this 501C3 not for profit makes a ton of money for the organizers. With many races under my belt 200? I have never done a fundraiser race or ride. I would feel awkward hitting up my friends so I can go play.

  4. @Ray Zinbran There are also informative charity watchdog organizations like Charity Tracker & CharityWatch that rate charities in terms of % of budget going to the cause, salaries of the charity heads, etc. Always a good place to start if you want to research a 501(c)3 before donating to it.

  5. @Ray Zinbran ... they literally can be done for free. I work for a 501(c)(3) that provides art scholarships for college students and block grants to elementary schools for art supplies. They do an annual craft festival and nearly everything is donated. Only the big tent rentals are full price. Electric work and police security (it’s on private property) are heavily subsidized by the company and city, respectively. Obviously, a race wouldn’t need huge tents and the permit for public road use compels the police. Walmart and Target, as well as local grocery stores, will donate materials and refreshments. A print shop sponsor and well placed tv pr... bada boom. But you have to have an actual cause that every dime goes to. And that’d be the rub. ;) (it’s funny because all these organizations are terrible.)

  6. @Ray Zinbran I appreciate your concern. As a past participant in the Pelotonia ride and a resident of Columbus, OH it's fairly common knowledge locally the administrative costs and logistics are 100% funded by additional corporate donations, so all the funds each individual rider raises are actually going directly to cancer research and capital projects to better house those research spaces. Even with this deception by this individual, I still trust the organization itself. Plus, on guidestar you may always look up any nonprofits' tax filings and confirm for yourself where the money is going.

  7. There are so many small scale frauds on FB - the WORST place to get any kind of information. In the bigger picture of charity fraud there's a much larger - huge in fact - long con going on in the form of a particularly litigious (I won't use there name here) "pink" breast cancer organization whose entire model - like many of its ilk - is fundraising to raise more funds w/ v. little actually getting to research. Want to "fix" cancer? Invest in biotech startups and give to large, reputable orgs like the American Cancer Society. Only. Ditch the pink and the bikes.

  8. @David Anderson Yeah, the "pink" org of which you speak is a particularly dirty word to people in oncology.

  9. @David Anderson There is a site, Charity Watch, where you can enter a charity to see how it is rated. I didn't look up Pelotonia, now I will due to curiosity. A close friend died of bone cancer; his father was a doctor; he took his son to hospitals specializing in cancer treatment. The cancer did not take 3 yrs. to end his life; he was young when he received the diagnosis. If this guy had bone cancer there should have been extensive medical records to substantiate his claim. If Pelotonia was legitimate, there would be financial records over 3 years. It is appalling to see this fraud exploiting a cancer which does cause death. I recall Ted Kennedy losing his son to bone cancer; it was terrible to see him holding his son while he struggled to walk. He should be prosecuted, with any others involved with his fraud. This is not a human interest story; it is a crime story.

  10. @Linda Miilu Charity Navigator is a 2nd watchdog group.

  11. This guy scammed $1300 from a yard sale, once, over the course of 9 years? Not a nice guy, but not exactly a "master criminal". And how much money did this guy legitimately raise for these charities over that same period? The article doesn't say, except for the fact that he must have raised at least $1200 for a single race he entered - and that all went to charity. While he lied about his illness, it appears Mr. Looker didn't try to defraud Erika Decker, the one most put-out in this whole thing, he simply offered his support. And there is no mention at all of Mrs. Decker raising any money for any charity. From my reading of the article, Mr. Looker seems like a third rate scammer who may have some mental issues, however, Mrs. Decker comes across as particularly vindictive. I think there are other agendas here. And, I think the last line of the article, “He was so good at his crime", smacks of an out-sized amount of self-righteous indignation from someone who, one would think, would have a little more empathy for others who may be suffering from some kind of illness. Albeit a mental one rather than a physical one. I am not a big fan of people who act as if suffering is their personal domain - because everyone suffers in one way or another. And that last line really struck me as indicative of someone who trades in that kind of thing. That idea that, "no one else knows what it's like", is not only wrong, it's kind of offensive - because no one escapes real suffering. No one.

  12. @Chicago Guy As a (real) cancer survivor and someone who participates on message boards and listserves dispensing advice and encouragement to my fellow patients, (and yes, I've been at a bedside at the end for someone who did not survive), I get how these folks must feel. It's not about the *money* it's about the way he lead people on, the duplicity, the false hope. And in CancerWorld, there's always people telling you to buck up, be stronger, and telling you that if you only do this diet or try that treatment, then you'll be cured. It's all about the "battle," but it's *not* a battle, it's a capricious disease that is a crapshoot to beat or not. He held a mirror up to all of that, potentially making real patients feel/seem "less than" in comparison when they weren't "doing so well." I get that he's got a mental health issue. I also get the sense of betrayal these folks must feel. Their anger is justified.

  13. @Chicago Guy Boy do I disagree with you! My assumption is that Looker stole countless dollars over many years, but the legal case against him was restrained by lack of evidence. Who's going to pursue a missing $500 in cash here, $800 there? Simply too difficult, so they chose one instance where they could nail him and that, at least, established his crookedness. My feeling is that people who pray on the trusting, the ill, the poor, etc, deserve a special place in our criminal justice system

  14. @Columbia Alum "It's all about the "battle," but it's *not* a battle, it's a capricious disease that is a crapshoot to beat or not." Thank you for saying this.

  15. So what was the net total of money he hijacked for his personal use. Shouldn't there be restitution of the full amount? What's missing here?

  16. @Elysse The article mentioned that he had to pay $1500 in restitution and $2000 as a civil fine.

  17. @Elysse: the fine was only $2000? he must have gotten far more than that. All he has to do is move somewhere else, change his name and do the whole fraud over again.

  18. @MoscowReader that's all he had to pay back. Reading between the lines here I'm getting the impression he scammed a lot more than that. Perhaps the organization is downplaying the damage to save face, and some of the people who feel they have been scammed have done the same.

  19. I was so glad to see Lance Armstrong mentioned in this article early on, even if just incidentally. This whole story screams of the "Armstrong Effect" that we've lived through so many times in the past many years. Culminating, as has been pointed out, in the charlatan in the White House. It would be a sad, sad story if this were not the new normal. Meaning, I guess I'm just going to have to recalibrate my moral outrage gauge.

  20. Based on this article, it sounds like Looker stole hundreds of dollars, enough to barely qualify as a “thousandaire.” I can understand the pain of cancer patients who saw him as a symbol of hope. I have more of a problem with Dr. LeMay, who seems a bit too intense about yard sale proceeds gone wrong. This is more a human interest story than a criminal investigation. I hope it does not unduly tarnish the cause.

  21. @Joan T This only the tip of the iceberg - he ripped off so many more people that what this article states. He did multiple fund raisers through his employer over the years and there was plenty of cash placed in his care. You have no idea the amount the fraud and hope he perpetuated through this scam.

  22. As the spouse of a cancer survivor, I cannot believe that his partner didn’t know.

  23. @Patricia Sears I get why lots of people are commenting similar things, but that is the knowledge you have NOW. I have been a caregiver for my mother with Alzheimer’s and my father (now deceased) who was a quadriplegic after a stroke. I started this journey over a decade ago. All of my friends have healthy parents. Other than the odd extremely empathetic soul, most of my friends have no idea of the number of doctors’ appointments, time on med management, trying to find something they can eat, etc. We know because we have been there. People who live in La-La healthy land often think it is just a few appointments here and there and it will all be fine if you drink celery juice. They have no idea what serious illness entails. His partner thought of a doctor visit the same way all healthy people think of a doctor visit: 15 mins of inconvenience. He didn’t know because he had no idea what serious illness means.

  24. @Patricia Sears Yes! I am also the spouse of a brain cancer survivor (GBM4), and there is absolutely no way his partner couldn't be aware of something fishy about him. 6 months of radiation therapy plus a year of Temodar wreaks havoc on the patient (and on the care givers)

  25. My son had brain cancer, an astrocytoma in his left ventricle. So it is with some terrible experience in oncology that I can say, this is about as low as it gets.

  26. @Jeff M My son also had an astrocytoma of the brain stem. Surgery was followed by 4 weeks of hospitalization, months of radiation on a daily basis and finally an attempt at a chemotherapy trial. He was a pediatric hospice patient for 3 1/2 months before he died of the disease 10 months after the initial diagnosis at the age of 6 years. That someone would deceive others regarding this terrible diagnosis is unforgivable. I am appalled and saddened by Mr. Looker.

  27. @JM I'm so sorry to hear about your son passing. I hope that you have found or will find some measure of peace

  28. Privacy laws are complicated for all public-facing institutions, and particularly around self-declaration/self-identifications models that are used for equity, diversity, and recruitment purposes. A person associated with an institution can make a voluntary self-declaration about their identity/status, and other such matters, but it may be considered an encroachment into the person's privacy if the institution attempts to independently verify the declaration (particularly if the declaration is not directly tied to financial compensation). I say this not to absolve Pelotonia of any responsibility, but to suggest that their legal responsibility to safeguard the privacy of their employees or volunteers probably constrains their capacity to investigate their claims, much less act upon claims. I would be keen to hear a privacy or HR specialist's take on Pelotonia's response to Mr. Looker, and this issue more generally.

  29. It’s really hard to fake cancer. I say this as a breast cancer survivor. My mother died of a glioblastoma—the life expectancy even with treatment is one year. There’s surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, radiation, chemo, countless doctor visits. The people surrounding Looker must have been complete cancer neophytes to have been fooled.

  30. @DannyR This was my exact thought also. My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal brain cancer at the age of 54 and given 6-9 months to live. The diagnosis was preceded by out-of-the-blue speech and mobility issues. She was very, very sick, and it showed. She was not riding a bike and holding fundraising events.

  31. That Looker was selling cookies to help fund cancer research would have been a huge red flag for me. Sugar feeds cancer. Reducing your sugar intake is one of the most basic things you can do to reduce the chances of getting cancer or having it come back. Cookies are antithetical to health.

  32. My sister could be the poster child for everything you should do to avoid cancer. But last year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. No known genetic issue involved. Her prognosis is excellent, but why did she get cancer in the first place? There’s no one answer that’s right for everyone. Cookies are flat out antithetical to health? Yeah, all fat used to be antithetical to health, too.

  33. @Adriftn Our livers cannot process more than 5-7 teaspoons of added sugar a day (25 grams - 35 grams depending upon if you're a small or larger person). Yet many Americans consume many more times that. Our bodies haven't evolved to process much sugar. It's only been in the last 100 years that we've had access to it. Re: fat being bad for you... that was the sugar industry's campaign placing blame on fat so it would take the spotlight off of sugar.... Look it up.

  34. @Adrift It sounds like how your sister lived to avoid cancer is helping her outcome. Mazel tov to her.

  35. It is beyond credulity that those around Looker were so gullible. Nobody with a glioblastoma diagnosis goes to appointments alone. The universal protocol for treating a glioblastoma starts with surgery for which the patient needs help during the recovery. These facts are not hard to learn. The real harm here is that Looker made life with a terminal primary brain cancer look so unimpaired, raising unrealistic expectations among those who are in contact with people who truly do have a Stage 4 primary brain cancer.

  36. @mary — Nowhere in the article does it say that John Looker claimed he had glioblastoma. And it's GRADE-4, not stage-4, when it comes to glioblastoma.

  37. @puma The article says Looker claimed he had a glioblastoma in the paragraph that begins,"He was always very sweet and charming," a quotation from Joshua Platt. Knowing there are several types of malignant brain tumors, I was struck by that. I do know that the grades for brain cancers are described differently than for other cancers, though I thought it was "Level" rather than "Grade." I often say "Stage" anyway, depending on context, because it's a label for which more people have a frame of reference. It tells them the gist. I hope you agree with the point of my comment.

  38. @puma LOOKER claimed just that. It may not say it in this article, but he publicly claimed he had glioblastoma.

  39. "You can race for the cure but you can't run from the cause." Why are there all these bike races etc to fund research? Why isn't this the government's job, funded by our taxpayer dollars? And more importantly, why don't we talk about the causes of illness? Because there are many. Chemicals we put on our lawns. Chemicals we put in our dry cleaning. Fire retardants in our couches and mattresses. Chemicals that are in our drinking water. Chemicals in shampoo. All the plastic we drink from and eat off of. So much out-gassing all around us. And stress. We live in a very stressful and overworked society with very few supports for families.

  40. @expat But we do. Everything you list, I have read about over and over and over. Stress, toxic chemicals - these things are like the weather. Everyone talks about it but nobody does anything about it. (Because we can't.)

  41. @Laura Yes we can. Until the government acts to protect us, individuals have the power to stop applying chemicals to their lawn, stop buying personal care products with unsafe chemicals in them, buy furniture that is not treated with flame retardants, eat unprocessed food, etc. It takes some effort and added cost, but it can be done. Studies show significant reductions in toxic load from those lifestyle changes.

  42. @expat I'm reading the book An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal right now - excellent book, but with knowledge comes the understanding of how the medical system is geared towards profit. One of the economic rules is "a lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure".

  43. All these races to cure cancer. Instead, can we talk about the root causes of disease instead? Stress, chemicals ever-present in our daily lives, air and water pollution, too much processed food....

  44. @expat We need to talk about properly funded universal health care and research. Big pharma should be properly regulated.

  45. @expat Disaster relief and rebuilding is very profitable and soaks up billions upon billions of dollars both from individual donors and taxpayer dollars. Just think if similar amounts had been put into prevention and preparation? Look at the difference between communities that do prevent and prepare and those that don't. It is the same with medical research. Billions upon billions for treatments and a cure but so little looking for causes and prevention. Cancer drugs are one of the biggest budget items in our high cost of health care and one of the most profitable businesses if you have a 'blockbuster' and can keep extending the patent. Where's the profit in prevention? Where's the profit in eliminating the causes? How do you convince people that they can prevent disasters? and prepare when they have been warned of those that cannot be prevented?

  46. @expat So where's the beef? Please back up your statement about "root causes" with more than amorphous assumptions. When my wife was diagnosed with inoperable brain lymphoma - the treatment for which involved nearly a year of intense chemo - we suffered well-intentioned friends and acquaintances offering helpful treatment suggestions, most involving a change of diet from antioxidant greens to lemon grass to (I kid you not) clean dirt. Others suggested her cancer was stress-related. Several blamed cell phone use. A number advised marijuana as a cure all (which might also reduce stress!). My wife's oncologists were wearily skeptical, having heard it all before. Nothing wrong with eating well and drinking lemon grass tea and reducing stress - probably no one should eat dirt though - but in the end, they said, little actual evidence of causal or curative properties from wide-spread but unproven theories. And over the several years since her treatment concluded, we've learned to take helpful, if unfounded, suggestions with buckets of salt. My wife (who survived the cancer and the chemo) eats well and tries not to stress and strives for a mindful, balanced life - but it was medicine, its unforgiving statistics and its brutal treatment that saved her life.

  47. Seriously, Mr. Addison. Love may be blind (I have my doubts about that) but 17 years with no hospital stays, no sitting with your partner during chemo, no tending to someone wretchedly ill from treatments or zonked out after yet another probe or scan? It is way easier to have an affair than feign Stage 4 cancer. Though there's a theme running through the news; if you have charisma (Epstein et al) you can convince people of anything. This is not bipolar behavior. This is sociopathic behavior.

  48. @Susan Right. My husband just completed treatment for Stage IIB esophageal cancer. His prognosis is fairly decent. Still it's been one doctor appointment after another for the two of us, and discussions around weight loss and what he feels he can eat, managing symptoms from chemo and radiation, and on and on. Life-changing for me almost as much as for him. I get that Mr. Addison hadn't been through it before and wouldn't have known exactly what to expect, but wow.

  49. I believe my wife would agree that I know more about her cancer than she does. She is focused on trying to stay as well as she can be, both physically and mentally, while I manage the medical records, insurance claims, appointment details, treatment research and financial concerns. Sorry Mr. Addison, but your claim of ignorance is truly incredible.

  50. Couldn't help but notice that L Brands ( Owner-Lex Wexner bff of Jeffrey Epstein) was an initial sponsor. The swamp sure does smell around those names.

  51. The notion of 'getting away' with something and not being caught is an American tradition. Maybe a human trait -I'm no expert. I do recall that after 9/11 every business place had a jar for 'Victims' or firefighters, etc. Cash would be stuffed in thinking that it was going to the right places. Nope- not always. So using 'cancer' is a national item...to steal or mislead the good hearts who think they are helping. If you check most of the charities- they are top heavy with costs and not with donating. It has reached into places like the NFL/MLB with the 'pink' items and wrist bans, shoes, t-shirts and on and on. No evidence that any of the $$ is reducing the cancer rates. My point is that plucking at heart strings is the lowest yet most reliable way to con folks. Stay healthy and be alert.

  52. @Dennis McSorley I had cancer. Twice. Nearly died both times. I’ve never heard of this charity and Livestrong never came up. I was a student at CU (in Denver) at the time, covered, thank god, by their mandatory health insurance. CU’s hospital saved my life. In part with treatments still being developed by themselves and other large research institutions. Wanna help? Donate directly. Encourage your politicians to support research and access to funds for victims. Take an interest. In other words, I agree. Further, I believe these scams only exist because people don’t actually care, it’s just an easy way to tout your charity work. I BIKE FOR CANCER! What does that even mean?

  53. Pelatonia helped fund a drug that keeps a dear friend of mine alive.

  54. @Dennis McSorley I think a lot of charities are legit - it's worthwhile to check their ratings on charitynavigator.org. I look askance at donation jars (especially when they appear after disasters), pink-ribbon-related events and merch, and GoFundMe - especially when they want money for something like funeral expenses, not medical treatment.

  55. While the amounts of money filched in this “crime” are pretty low, I think this points up what the Times discussed on “The Weekly” this week about Facebook scammers. Most people are, at their core, good folks. They want to believe someone else’s story. “Skepticism” isn’t an emotion. It’s why PT Barnum’s “sucker born every minute” maxim works so well in the internet age. People are always searching for a connection. I just think it’s sad that their good hearts wind up being abused by someone who then claims he’s “bipolar”. I’ve been aware of medical scams since the ‘80s (they used to center around “heart/lung transplants”). Eventually the fraud is discovered, the police and prosecutors don’t know what to do with the cases and they just fall away. Pelotonia sounds like a good idea to raise money for cancer research, just like Livestrong is still in existence despite Lance Armstrong.

  56. @Mark H Livestrong raises money for cancer awareness, not research. It’s not a good idea for anything other than creating a few high paying jobs for people ok with that.

  57. @Kate Correct. I personally know many who still insist Lance helped raise money for research. They believe that today,

  58. @Kate during Lance Armstrong's inglorious heyday, Livestrong was run by Doug Ulman - looks like he brought the same elite-athlete, "blind-eye" culture to Pelotonia - as a 2X cancer survivor, I find it repugnant to see predators capitalizing on public sympathy to serve self-interests. Ulman's earned 2 strikes and out.

  59. Scammers often feed off peoples altruistic tendencies. Every time there is a bump in the road of life here comes another Go Fund Me account. And now FaceBook is trying to get me to ask for money from my friends as my birthday approaches.

  60. It sounds like Mr. Looker may have raised much more money than he stole, which should mitigate his crime somewhat. Frauds of this kind are perpetrated by disturbed individuals who crave attention and love.Thank God he didn't steal more. It seems that attention was more important to him than the money. Mr. Looker deserves our sympathy.

  61. Mr. Looker deserves no such thing. Our sympathies should lie with true cancer patients who are fighting for their lives.

  62. @Mary A--Mental illness is also a serious disease. There's not a scale to measure which sufferers deserve the most sympathy. Whether cancer or schizophrenia, kidney failure or heart disease, stroke or diabetes or Alzheimer's, everyone coping with serious illness is worthy of compassion.

  63. @Ms. Pea Empathy and sympathy are two distinct things.

  64. the usa continues to cement its rep as the scam capital of planet earth....the place where being in the spotlight--for any reason, it seems--is paramount.

  65. Great story. Gotta love these amateur sports phonies. The pro cheaters I understand- many are talking about millions and have families to support and no alternative. But these amateurs despicable. I am waiting for an in-depth story on Frank Meza next.

  66. @steve A scammer is a scammer no matter how much or how little. Often the worse damage is not the monetary but the violation of trust that rings throughout the community. This guy did a lot more damage than the $1500 he stole. Dec

  67. Raising a lot of money for cancer research is a really good thing, imho. Yes, scamming some of it, from a yard sale of his own stuff, and lying about having cancer is not honorable, but doesn't come close to being reprehensible, again imho. See Chicago Guy below.

  68. What a lot of people don't realize when they donate to these "Bike for Cancer" or "Bike for MS" types of "charities" is that the money goes to researchers who already get grants or make profits from the sale of the drugs they develop. Nothing ever goes to the victims of the illnesses who may have serious problems paying for their care!

  69. @Susan in Maine That's not accurate. Researchers funded by nonprofits aren't making money from the sale of drugs. And many cancer charities do provide support services to people with cancer.

  70. @Susan in Maine Ask Obama for the money

  71. Many moons ago when doing things didn't require some cause, I hiked the whole AT and then biked across the USA three times and added biking the length of Canada. I've written a few books on the getaways as proof. Net results is why can't we do things for the love of the venture? Why can't we give to a cause without tying it to some public event? My wife has O negative blood and gives once a month and never receives a nickel for it but has received notifications from hospitals acknowledging the receptions of her blood. Enough said!

  72. @Paul Wittreich On many occasions while bike touring in the middle of nowhere, I have been stopped by strangers and been asked, "It's such a great thing you are doing - what charity is this for?" Well actually I don't need a reason, I just like riding my bike.

  73. The sum may be small - but it tarnishes the whole concept of communities coming together to raise funds. Since Lance Armstrong was mentioned - his legacy continues to shadow a great cycle race, Le Tour de France. I am a big time fan of Le Tour and have been to several all of them including when Lance was winning. I never ever believed his accusers. And then the shock and denial and then acceptance of his guilt. This year, a Frenchman far exceeded his expected performance and sure enough doubts of him doing followed. Luckily, nothing so far. So, this man destroyed faith of so many in such a noble venture. That crime far exceeds any gravity of any funds stolen or misappropriated. When sources of many findings are drying up - he just emptied this reservoir of public goodwill.

  74. The sum may be small - but it tarnishes the whole concept of communities coming together to raise funds. Since Lance Armstrong was mentioned - his legacy continues to shadow a great cycle race, Le Tour de France. I am a big time fan of Le Tour and have been to several all of them including when Lance was winning. I never ever believed his accusers. And then the shock and denial and then acceptance of his guilt. This year, a Frenchman far exceeded his expected performance and sure enough doubts of him doing followed. Luckily, nothing so far. So, this man destroyed faith of so many in such a noble venture. That crime far exceeds any gravity of any funds stolen or misappropriated. When sources of many findings are drying up - he just emptied this reservoir of public goodwill.

  75. As an avid cyclist, I have considered participating in "charity rides" over the years as a way to get some additional riding in while promoting good cause. Sadly, what my experience has shown me is that most of these events are only designed to raise money, not actually use it for the purposes intended (I participated in Wounded Warrior rides until the scandal about how the senior management was living the high life on the funds it raised). As many of these events have become more popular, the price tags have increased substantially and become, frankly, ridiculous. I'll donate what I can afford to causes that I support.

  76. @David DiRoma You are absolutely spot on. I live in Central Ohio and considered riding Pelotonia in the past, but was astounded at the price tag. The shortest ride - 25 miles - is $1250. And, believe me, you will pay the full amount, regardless of how much you raise, because you must give your credit card info in order to register. Pelotonia’s prices are a disincentive to participation by people of modest means. Instead of fostering community, Pelotonia is far more interested in the big bucks...as if Ohio State and its affiliated hospitals don’t have enough of that.

  77. @David DiRoma I do endurance cycling events and the number one question people ask is, "What charity is this for?" I suspect this is because they expect me to then hit them up for $$$ because that's what other cyclists do. The events I do (brevets) are a few dollars to register, have no sponsors, prizes, or any support along the way. So it is baffling to me why these 'charity' events are productions on the scale of rock concerts, with catered stations every 5 miles and a thousand t-shirts and jerseys for everyone involved. I suspect not much of the money 'raised' goes to the actual charity. I ride my bike on my own time and volunteer when I can, but I will never do one of these charity rides.

  78. @Randonneur Because they market themselves heavily, unlike the more obscure brevets you are doing. Plus they have a ton of aid, so people that are not experienced riders can also participate.

  79. Amazing that he could change his supposed primary cancer diagnosis so many times - from colon cancer to chondrosarcoma (a type of bone cancer) to glioblastoma (a brain tumor) - without raising suspicion. And those who really have terminal metastatic disease often experience weight loss due to cancer-related wasting (cachexia), not weight gain as he did. But many people believe what they want to believe.

  80. @Larry right? It boggled my mind that so many just kept on throwing cash at him and falling at his feet, including Pelotonia. FOR YEARS.

  81. I'm seeing a lot of negative comments, and I understand that, but as someone who has ridden in Pelotonia, I feel the need to defend the event. Quite simply, it's a phenomenal organization that almost overnight became a leading annual charity event in Columbus, and it has only grown larger and more impactful each subsequent year. It's regrettable that there are the John Lookers of the world out there, but the camaraderie and sense of purpose that one feels when out on the road with thousands of other cyclists is truly uplifting and empowering, and the funds raised could not go to a better cause. Yes, Mr. Looker's story is unfortunate, but Pelotonia will continue to be a tremendous benefit to cancer research.

  82. @Thomas - if Pelotonia wants to build public confidence, they should be rated by Charity Navigator - but they aren't because they haven't filed the required 7 years of full IRS Forms 990, despite having been established in 2008

  83. @Thomas I'm not sure Pelotonia is a phenomenal organization. I have never seen any accounting of the money raised, where it went and how it was spent. As a possible donor, I want that information... no, we deserve that information. Pelotonia is not forthcoming and should be investigated.

  84. @Thomas How do you measure the tremendous benefit to cancer research? What numbers show that?

  85. I agree. As a Stage IV cancer survivor myself, it was impossible to hide the fact that I was extremely, extremely ill from strangers, much less my family and friends. But some people believe what they want to believe, despite what reality tells them.

  86. I am a 30 year survivor of metastatic cancer, and a physician for 25, and it is incredulous that his non-existent “cancer” treatments and care did not raise a red flag for those closest to him. That said, hope is so powerful a drug that I can see an aura of his inner circle deluding themselves because no one wanted to think he was lying. I myself followed Lance Armstrong every Tour and defended against his doping because I wanted to believe in this seemingly Uber survivor - the possibility that you could be even stronger after cancer treatment was so intoxicating. Now I understand that just living with the mundane is more that enough - the extreme lessons of survivorship lead to this conclusion which may seem obvious, but disorientation is the hallmark of a cancer diagnosis and certainty is elusive. Mr. Looker is sick, but there were plenty of enablers who wanted to believe. This hero worship of the celebrity is reflective of our underestimating our own strengths and looking to the outside for inspiration, when it exists deeply inside of us all. We are all stronger than we think. Resist the desire to place others on a pedestal, particularly if you are in the middle of your own treatment.

  87. @PintoG "This hero worship of the celebrity is reflective of our underestimating our own strengths and looking to the outside for inspiration, when it exists deeply inside of us all. We are all stronger than we think. Resist the desire to place others on a pedestal, particularly if you are in the middle of your own treatment." I, too, watched and admired Lance Armstrong every Tour. But there was always something that kept me from "committing" to making him a personal hero (i.e, buying a jersey, etc). I know heroes have flaws, they are human. I guess the prospect of being duped forces me to admire sports heroes well after the fact. I don't own TB12 gear, in spite of being a Patriots fan. I'm content to admire the likes of Bobby Orr and Big Papi after-the-fact rather than when they are at their peak in popularity.

  88. @PintoG excellent points

  89. @historyRepeated TB12? That's not a name, that's the symbol for an icon. What does it matter if you buy the gear or not?

  90. Years ago, I compiled a data base on patients who were referred to a major hospital for Chondrosarcoma. It very effectively destroys bones, but usually grows slowly and it only rarely kills people (there are extreme and fast growing dedifferentiated types but those are rare within rare). It can undergo progressive changes that make it really nasty and metastatic, but the tumors more frequently just die. When it does form, it sometimes mutates from a for non-sarcoma version of a tumor known as a chondroma, which is more common. I get the impression that this guy just picked rare things and made stuff up.

  91. People want to be fooled. I have a condition that takes me to a cancer center (I don't have active cancer) four times a year, and you don't have the disease to the extent Looker was claiming and not show a LOT of wear and tear.

  92. The question to be asked is, why does the country with the largest economy in the world have to sell cookies to fund cancer research and recovery? That is the fraud.

  93. @Glen We don't. The National Cancer institute budget is almost 6 billion dollars per year. The American Cancer Society collects hundred of millions in donations each year. These small-time organizations that think they're really doing something meaningful by raising a million dollars are lying to themselves. These types of charities might be good at making themselves "feel better", but their contributions are miniscule.

  94. I would not be so sure the biggies are the only deserving recipients of research funding. Sometimes it’s the offbeat idea that pushes knowledge in a new direction.

  95. @Yeah, but Not in real science. The cancer cure discovered in a garage is a myth.

  96. My son died from brain cancer, his tumor was at tip of his brain stem making it inoperable. It is unfathomable that someone could pretend to have brain cancer, and steal money, no matter how small the amount. Does he really have a mental defect, or is this another lie?

  97. I’m so sorry for your loss. I suspect he has a personality disorder—narcissism comes to mind. But he not only insults those with cancer or who have lost a loved one to cancer (I lost a sister to leukemia), he insults people with bipolar disorder. I don’t think most people with a bipolar disorder are out to defraud people.

  98. If there if fanfare, hoopla and hype behind fund raising, be suspicious. Besides, I do not see the need for citizens to make charitable donations for "research." Cancer research for example is well funded, staff is well compensated, facilities are well equipped and travel to conferences and trade shows is frequent. But patients and caregivers do need help and support. Give to them generously.

  99. @KG Basic cancer research is poorly funded. About 8% of all R01s (investigator initiated grants) are funded by the National Cancer Institute. KG may be referring to pharmaceutical company funded clinical trials, but those new drugs come from basic research funded by the NCI.

  100. @DY9219 Having read a few R01's, it is my opinion that funding 8% of them is beyond generous. This being said, the vast majority of funded research today has a "cancer" spin to it and there are many other mechanisms of research funding beyond R01.

  101. @KG Yes and in so many cases, changing your diet and lifestyle buys more years than thousands of dollars of intrusive therapy. If I ever get cancer, I'm heading to Europe for heat therapy. No radiation or chemo for me. I've had two parents die where the traditional regimens did nothing but line pockets.

  102. I couldn't help but notice the role that Facebook played in this matter. The inducement to misrepresent ourselves, while perhaps innately human, is amplified disturbingly by the lure of social media, where we can create versions of ourselves to salve our various needs and insecurities.

  103. Said the guy texting from the Appalachian Trail...

  104. @CB Evans The focus should remain that John Looker is a fraud and liar. These types throughout history have used any means available to perpetrate their lies. Facebook does not create people like John Looker that comes from within. People should use commonsense throughout life.

  105. Fraud in charities is tragic, but it is rare. I would like to provide some context. There are 1.5 million nonprofits in this country. American individuals, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, constituting 9% of the GDP in this country. About 11% of the workforce works for nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, the media only covers malfeasance, not the millions of people dedicating their lives to improving others.

  106. @HL I agree the fraud is probably rare. But this isn't true: " Unfortunately, the media only covers malfeasance, not the millions of people dedicating their lives to improving others." Just think of all the articles, on a daily basis, about various charitable walks, runs, cycling events, etc.

  107. @HL ever hear about the United Way CEO maintaining a mistress on UW expense account? The charitable events held as ‘high end galas’? The symphonies? The very highly paid CEOs of ‘charitable’ organizations, and universities. Tax law needs to be simplified - REMOVE ALL deductions. Tax gross income. Do not use tax policy for social objectives - handle separately with grants.

  108. @HL A. Charities and nonprofits overlap but are not the same thing. B. None of the numbers you provide demonstrate that charities are not frauds. C. You present as a fact your opinion that charity fraud is rare. D. My opinion is that charity fraud is the norm rather than the exception.

  109. Looker's partner really didn't suspect anything? He traveled so much he never accompanied his partner to any appointments? Didn't they live together? And it didn't seem odd to him that his partner who had a very serious form of cancer never had any medicine in the medicine cabinet, was never in the hospital, held down a full-time job, etc.? Very suspicious.

  110. @Victoria Rentz not to mention those alarming FB posts, either Looker had to sit him down and tell him the "news" or his partner received a shock when he looked on FB that day. Either way there had to have been questions asked.

  111. The vast majority of charities are either tax schemes or self serving enterprises meant to provide salaries for the families of the leaders foremost and their employees in second. It is my opinion.

  112. @Ronald Weinstein Unfortunately correct. Beware of human greed and scheme. It's wound deeply in many many people.

  113. @Ronald Weinstein Don't let a few bad actors spoil the bunch. Sounds like you have been burned. Too bad because there are many worthy charities that do great work and are very responsible stewards of the funds they raise.

  114. @Ronald Weinstein: Your statement is unfortunately true. It's why I only give money to the local public library. Their work I can see (and check out -- pun intended) for myself.

  115. What a tragic story. One of the reasons being that this kind of fabricated scenario is not uncommon. It reminds me of the documentary "The Woman Who Was Never There" about a person who made up a story of being a World Trade Center 9/11 survivor and became "famous" because of her "heartbreaking" story which included losing a fiance, who never existed, in the towers when they collapsed. It's also tragic because these individuals need help and it appears to be challenging for others to notice it--for a long time. It also makes me wonder if they were not given much attention as children. I'm not a child psychologist, but as a school teacher I have seen children and their attention-seeking behavior (making up stories of being abused or feeling sick almost on a daily basis) when they've been neglected at home. I've also observed their reactions when they were given a lot of attention from faculty and staff doting over them and showering them with care. It was like giving them a cold drink on a very hot day.

  116. With all due respect to actual cancer patients (among whom I count close friends and relatives, some of whom have died of their disease) their near-deification in popular culture and the fascination with cancer journey/battle stories is part of what allows for this. Nobody would ever dare challenge a cancer patient, it’s a disease that makes you special in a way that other medical conditions do not.

  117. @Di - yes, Di +special in so many ways. Like fear of dying, putting up with endless rounds of treatments and surgeries, impacting the lives of your family and friends, and perhaps even dying at a young age with a life half lived. How do I know? I have son in the middle of the struggle for his life.

  118. @Jeff Again with all due respect to him and to one of my best friends who passed last year... Does this make either of them somehow more worthy of regard than people dealing with anything other serious or possibly fatal disease or medical condition, that also involves surgery and medications and fear and loss? No, not more, not less. My meaning is that the socially the drama of cancer is apparently so compelling that people at large stop thinking.

  119. @Di A very honest post.

  120. My high school English teacher claimed she had terminal cancer. She wore a head scarf, became extremely thin but welcomed her students into her home. One of her colleagues had suspicions about her claim. He confronted her and she spilled the beans - she was fine, physically, but was so lonely and depressed, she created the cancer story because she needed/wanted the attention, comfort, and sympathy from anyone and everyone willing to give her. Within a 24 hour period, I went from devastation to heart break to shock to anger to never completely trusting again. All of this happened over 50 years ago and to this day, there is always a hint of doubt when I read or talk to someone who has a devastating or life threatening illness. What usually convinces me is when the name of the doctor and hospital are mentioned from the individual without being prompted or asked. Especially these days, it is rather easy and quick to confirm various informational elements. What angered me the most about this teacher is that she destroyed a trust and innocence I always had in people. I loved her because she was like a second mother to me on many levels. And then she lied about being sick and was going to dying. When people lie like Looker did, they don't only steal people's money, but they steal their trust and compassion and sense of optimism. Unlike money, those qualities are rarer and often replaceable.

  121. @Marge Keller "always a hint of doubt" - extremely offensive to those of us who have actually lost family and friends to actual cancer

  122. @Martha My mother died of cancer, as well as four of her brothers and one of my brothers. I've lost so many friends to cancer over the years, the number only continues to grow. I sincerely apologize for offending you and anyone with my "always a hint of doubt" comment. That most certainly was NOT my intent. I merely meant to state that since I trusted this individual many, many years ago who was never physically ill, my first impulse is to be on guard. For whatever it's worth, that teacher was the only person I personally knew who ever lied about having cancer. Again, I am truly sorry for any offense taken by my words. I probably should have done a better job in selecting the right and appropriate words.

  123. I think what’s being overlooked here is that while cancer mortality rates are improving annually, we have yet to scratch the surface of mental health illness and care in this country.

  124. I have a friend who claimed to have cancer for years. I helped her out many times. I noticed a pattern of her being in remission around the summer and the cancer always coming back on Christmas. I did some digging around and found out she had a history of mental illness, those hospital stays for cancer treatment were actually in mental health facilities. I never confronted her because she had gotten suicidal a couple times and I didn't want to provoke her. I guess she did it more to get sympathy than for the money, because she rarely asked me for money, although she never declined it when I offered it.

  125. Thanks @Carol for that story. I have seen people do this before too. I think sympathy and attention are the main motivators. It is tragic. and it also harms the faith of those who wish to help others. Makes them less trusting and fills them with doubt. People who engage in this behavior do need help, but they are needy and are unable to be honest.

  126. I have felt suspicious of charities that advertise on TV. I was not surprised to read here that the "Wounded Warriors" charity is being questioned because of the lavish life style of its leaders. Charities that use expensive TV ads have raised my suspicions. Many years ago, I read an article that investigated a British company who was in the business of making these campaigns for charities and was paid very well. The charities said that they made so much money that it was was worth it to pay this ad company's fees. That said I did see a TV ad for the charity Save The Children and I do feel good for signing up for a monthly donation.

  127. Dear Sheila, Actually the "Wounded Warriors" charity is legitimate. I have confidential information about its leaders due to being involved in a case dealing with them, and there was never actual misuse of funds going on. There was an example given of a charity event where a leader rappelled down a building, and it turned out that only cost a paltry amount due to donated equipment and so on. It can be tough to tell if a charity's funds are being spent well, but there are oversight groups that check on them, and Wounded Warriors in particular does a lot of great work without any misuse of funds.

  128. @Dan Stackhouse Then there's the Trump Family Charity. With Donald faking being a real President of the United States. What's the penalty for that.

  129. @sheila - for you and anyone interested in supporting any charity, I highly recommend doing your research. At they very least, consult Charity Navigator and check their financials. Charities such as Save the Children play on your heartstrings with their commercials. We see sad images, be they of a child, someone with disabilities, an animal or whatever and we think "how could I not help?" And...many good people do help. But before writing that check, research how your dollars will be spent and make sure you agree with their method of spending. BTW: This is not specific to STC or any other charity.

  130. I'm about to ride in my sixth Pelotonia, and my brother (and fellow rider) is a cancer researcher at The James, which benefits from the donations. I hope this one individual's problems do not dissuade people from donating to this incredible organization and the work it does!

  131. Thank you for riding. You are helping to make a difference.

  132. @Dan: I hope so. And thank you!

  133. It sounds like his celebrity generated a LOT of donations over the years, far far more than the $1300 or so he pocketed. I'm guessing he generated tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. It kind of reminds of of the Greg Mortenson story, only more fraudulent. Sick frauds like Bernie Madoff ruined lives, at least Looker was working hard to save some, as was Greg Mortenson. The biggest indictment here is our stone age health care system, where bike riders, etc. etc., have to help with costs.

  134. I give to my family...charity begins at home. Too many scams and charity traps run amok.

  135. I'm an actual cancer survivor and can well imagine the betrayal patients in Mr. Looker's orbit might feel but take solace in that the multiplier effect of his Pelotonia promotion was much greater than the cash he stole. And forgive me for not getting more worked up over a low level con job by a guy that needs a mental health professional. I've been inoculated by the Trump Administration.

  136. He didn’t want the money, he wanted the attention. There are many people before him who have been caught pretending to have cancer. Quite possibly they grew up with unsympathetic parents who never nurtured them or said “poor baby” when they were ill. It’s very sad. The only way they can feel alive is by pretending to be almost dead.

  137. In Chattanoga, we also had a woman who faked cancer to get charity, donations, and donated leave. Her fraud also lasted years and only fell apart when she was finally asked for health records (and when she stopped shaving her head and using white powder to make herself appear ill). Don’t blame the folks who take someone at their word when they say they have cancer. As one manager told me (I worked in HR at the time), “Yes, I gave her leave. What else could I do when I walked by her desk and she had her head on the desk in ‘pain’?” Sadly, it is the charities who need to verify illnesses in those they assist or allow to speak for them. But Keele Maynor served time for her crimes. I’m wondering why he got off so lightly? Has there been a full account of all the money and in kind donations he received?

  138. @Susan DuBose Meanwhile, back at the John Looker story....

  139. Lots of people lie about many things. The damage here is not much financially. He raised awareness but deceived people, that hurts more than the financial cheating. Still, I think it is not fair for him to get national attention for his behavior. He may have been famous regionally but an article like this (after he was already caught) isn't going to help him or anyone get better.

  140. @AN How can we be sure what the financial damage is? The whole Pelotonia org should be audited.

  141. If tens of thousands of dollars were involved, I would be interested. The bigger fraud occurs daily as insurance agents and our many incompetent federal government civil servants force people to fight for benefits to which they are legally entitled but often cannot get without hiring an attorney.

  142. “You’d never think someone would lie about having cancer" -- sure unless that person does indeed need help. Mental health support is out of reach and/or stigmatized for so many. I am sorry for all of the friendships that were damaged by this deceit.

  143. @Present Occupant "...unless that person does indeed need help" Or attention. Think Munchausen.

  144. Is this a weird variation on Factitious Disorder?

  145. Any person in the US who is asking for money in this manner should have to disclose their medical records. Just like any person wanting to be President or any public service politician should have to disclose their financial records. Being truthful in one's life is becoming hard to find these days.

  146. @Hal Not to mention their tax returns.

  147. It wasn't much of a relationship if over the course of 6 years Addison never accompanied Looker on a doctor or hospital visit. The ex shares some responsibility.

  148. This is a sad man... to blame his behaviors on a mental illness is pitiful. Yes the outrage for cancer patients is understandable. But people with Bi polar or depressive disorders don't LIE for attention and affection like this man did. How sad that he only took 2,000.00 to help pay some bills, what he really needed was to belong to a community, interact with others and feel important. Personality disorder not mental illness. Just saying.

  149. Americans like to believe that good can come out of any situation; we are the world's eternal optimists. When people close to us die tragically, one option is to focus on the means of that death and devote ourselves to fighting it, through donations of time and money. I wonder how the dead would feel about that. My wife died of early onset breast cancer. While alive, whenever possible she tried to live her life as though she did not have cancer, enjoying her time with her family and friends. Cancer was never the center of her life or the life of our family; to make it the center of my life and my children's lives after her death would have been macabre and against her wishes. We celebrate her life, not her death. Focusing on the means of somebody's death freezes the grieving process and doesn't allow us to move on. I think it is an unhealthy societal trend that reflects on American's fear of and inability to reconcile with death. Our loved ones will often contract a disease and then die; that is normal, all lives end; sometimes the end is easiest if we don't fight too hard. Let us celebrate the time that we had with them, no matter how short, and not emphasize the pain and struggle of the end. Disease charities seek to extend indefinitely the period when we feel anger and fear towards the thing that killed our loved one. That interrupts the healing process, and leaves us open to others who would manipulate our grief. Let them go; it's what they would want.

  150. @Tom Meadowcroft "Let us celebrate the time that we had with them, no matter how short, and not emphasize the pain and struggle of the end. " AGREED. AND NOW BACK TO THIS STORY ABOUT DECEIT.

  151. "He said he had been given a diagnosis as “manic depressant and bipolar,” which caused him to lie about the brain cancer." That statement is a major indicator of Mr. Looker's dishonesty. "Manic depressant" is an old name for bipolar disorder. He would not have been given a diagnosis of "manic depressant and bipolar." Bipolar disorder does not cause people to lie. I'd like to see this con man criminally charged.

  152. This is a very selfish and self-possessed man. And he got away with this deception and fraud for way too long, in a way mocking the very cancer-burdened individuals he claimed to be championing. Yes, personal medical information is private, but when he started publicly using it and associating it with the charity— It was time for Pelotonia officers to require documentation.

  153. Humans believe what they like to believe, not what is based on reason. Humans are not rational animals and this is one of their instinctive behaviors.

  154. @J Chaffee So should we believe you?

  155. @kenneth You obviously don't understand the difference between believing and knowing. I'll give you a hint: I know the square root of two is not a fraction. In this case, it is known that humans are apes (genetics) and their behavior is irrational (empiricism). Belief has nothing to do with it. There are absolute truths, which you probably don't believe (you might work on figuring out why the square root of two is not a fraction is one of them, before trying to tackle the other two regarding the human primate).

  156. Curious to know why anyone still believes things they see/read on Facebook? Honestly; I am baffled and would like to know.

  157. @Jake Good question. Facebook users should have learned by now. I'm glad I de-Faced myself after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

  158. I believe that Pelotonia executive personnel is also guilty of malfeasance, since several people brought their doubts to their attention long ago, and they kept quite. I am surprised that Pelotonia hired Mr. Ullman, even though he was running the show at another charity fraud linked with Armstrong!

  159. @Data, Data & More data Livestrong and its predecessor, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, are legitimate charities that have done a lot of good work with cancer patients. Neither iteration was "charity fraud".

  160. His romantic partner didn't know because he never accompanied his partner to treatments? I smell two rats in this story.

  161. He should run for Governor. Sad.

  162. I wonder, is it all the reality TV, the fantasy movies and television that has caused America's scepticism gland to atrophy? Apparently, gullible and American are synonymous. As the great Ronnie Reagan once said, "If your mother says she loves you, seek corroborating evidence.

  163. With all due respect to the Pelotonia community (and I follow it, as a non-participant, pretty closely), I've never heard of this guy before this all came to light. To say he was a cult figure in Columbus is going a little overboard.

  164. @Mike if you followed Pelotonia as closely as you say you do from 2009-2017 (2009-2014 moreso) you would have known him.

  165. @M AND so what if he didn't? The story is not about Mike, however much he may want.

  166. This is a pretty awful thing to do. The big question is why someone would do it. It also makes me think about the reality that lies and deception are a common part of everyday life. It’s easy to judge someone else, harder to be honest about ourselves. Conservative estimates suggest 1 in 5 people in a long-term marriage has been unfaithful. People fake their feelings and deceive the people closest to them every day. What’s worse? Easy to vilify the liar who has been exposed, but harder to be honest about our own unexposed failings. And again, the question is, why do we do it? Nothing alienates a person more than deception and lies. It’s a lazy way to avoid doing and feeling what needs to happen in order to get to a better place.

  167. Interesting that the article includes his claim to have bipolar disorder and be "manic depressant"... Did the NY Times verify that? If it's just another claim by a known conman shouldn't it be checked rather than simply repeated? I'm frustrated by news stories that insinuate mental illness is to blame for XYZ, etc. There are so many people with mental illness who live good, upstanding lives. This sort of casual inclusion without actually looking into it just perpetuates stigma.

  168. @ChiMom - I think the intelligent reader was meant to conclude that Mr. Looker likely did not have that ailment either.

  169. @ChiMom Did the article endorse his claim or just mention it?

  170. What point in this story is worth the national coverage? The implication that this charity and perhaps many others like it are frauds? That a person in Ohio associated with a charity that raises funds for cancer research in Ohio lied about an illness and was a petty thief? If the majority funds raised by this charity for cancer research have not been dispersed for this purpose, that could be a story of national significance. A story about a person with a mental illness and questionable morals who turns out to be a petty thief is surely not.

  171. @J. Larimer Maybe. But it got your attention, didn't it?

  172. So he's more than qualified to run for President as a republican.

  173. It's amazing to me that anyone would believe him in the first place. And his ex-partner knew all along. I'm as sure of that as I am that Looker was never diagnosed with "manic depressant and bipolar disorder."

  174. People want to be told what to do so badly that they’ll listen to anyone. People tell you who they are, but we ignore it - because we want them to be who we want them to be. Both quotes from Mad Men

  175. It seems that Doug Ulman is associated with a few questionable foundations/charitie: Lance Armstrong's, now this.. His reaction to the questions raised are also strange. How documented are his three cancers mentioned in the article?

  176. 6,800 riders will join The Pan Mass Challenge in Massachusetts for its 40th 2 day event this weekend. It has raised over $650 million. All rider raised funds go to the renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. PMC is making a difference!

  177. What I found cruel was Looker’s comment that, despite his stage IV cancer, he would be riding with “no excuses.” That type of tacit scold of cancer patients deserved censure when it occurred. It should have guaranteed criticism from the medical community in particular, not admiration.

  178. This is what inevitably happens when your rely on charities and gimmicks to solve serious problems. Curing cancer should be a top priority of the federal government. They should provide cancer researchers with every penny of funding they need. No more bike-a-thons, bake sales or pink t-shirts; cancer needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness it deserves at the highest levels. How did we get to the point where we're turning to random charlatans to solve massive public health problems?

  179. @Samuel Russell Right. And if the government won't do it, then just let everybody suffer and die. Sure.

  180. I find it annoying that, once again, someone accused of bad behavior goes immediately to the mental illness defense. There are millions of mental illness sufferers in this country who struggle with their conditions daily. Although mental illness can lead to bad impulses and bad judgments, most people work hard to contain them and don't engage in prolonged periods of such bad behavior. It has become fashionable for sociopathic criminals and loudmouth celebrities alike to send out a lawyer or other representative to speak about their misdeeds and misstatements, offering the claim that they're not responsible because of "mental illness". In the case of Mr. Looker it is a particularly dubious claim since he is just replacing one illness (fake) with another (probably fake). Instead of seeking sympathy, he should look for respect by admitting his deception and taking responsibility.

  181. Mr. Looker addressed the crowd on a large video screen in 2011. “Let me make this short and sweet,” he said. “I have Stage 4 terminal brain cancer. I will ride tomorrow. And I won’t be making any excuses.” I cared for and lost two family members to cancer. Cancer is talked about as if it a series of battles in a war that will be won. When both family members were about to die, it was almost as if they were apologizing for losing the war. Cancer is capricious, cancer is a roller coaster ride, one moment there's hope and the next everything comes crashing down. It was extremely cruel for Looker to compare cancer patients' individual journeys to his physical ability to cycle 180 miles. It's as if he was taunting patients for failing to fight. But he's very fat and has never suffered from cancer.

  182. I was duped in a business matter by a phony cancer patient. After 5 years of supposed chemo and radiation therapies with only result being he just gained a lot more weight all I had to show for it was being scammed out of about $200,000. It turns out I'm not the only one but he is such an artful liar that the DA will do nothing and he continues to dupe the unwitting. The point is there are many who will use this terrible disease for their own gain and we just need to be careful. At least in Mr. Looker's case there was some benefit to a charity.

  183. @Stitch " he is such an artful liar that the DA will do nothing " Sorry, Stitch, but it seems there must be more to it than just your impression.

  184. I would have shared my medical records but sadly, I'm under audit. Otherwise, I'd be happy for you to see them.

  185. When I was in a couples book club years ago we had the same thing happen. When someone found out I was a breast cancer survivor, one of the ladies got jealous I was getting attention for that. Personally I didn't want the attention. About 6 months later she told everyone she had brain cancer in an email. She even got one of the ladies in the group to take her to her doctor appts. I personally didn't believe it and after a month, her husband went around to everyone in the group to tell us she had lied about the cancer. Our little group of 10 weren't the only ones lied too. She lied to everyone at her job too. When the big corporation she worked for tried to fire her she sued them for firing a person with cancer even though she admitted to lying about it. I never heard what happened with that and never saw her again.

  186. @LofColorado This is at least the second time this week you've told that story. What would we be in for if you DID want attention?

  187. I offer an analogy for the here and now, regarding Mr. Looker and his championing of those burdened with cancer— We have a president who is a similar fabricator and imposter and also mentally ill, who champions his deal-making prowess and business acumen—and whose romantic partner and children claim they didn't notice or suspect anything. How many voters were taken-in.

  188. Looker’s Facebook post about how his cancer had spread was laughable for its audacity. I mean, at some point he was going to die from it. What happens then, though, when he doesn’t? I guess if he was capable of fooling his partner, he thought he could fool anybody.

  189. @AlNewman Isn't that what the article was about? What are you trying to add?

  190. The betrayal and dishonesty behind John Looker's actions disgust me. Some people will go to great extents to get their name out there and earn some money the easy way. To know that even Looker's wife had no idea that he was faking this whole time is even worse. While I do not blame Pelotonia directly for being naive about the background of Mr. Looker, I think more action should be taken in the future to have more verification on who their spokespersons are. Although Looker did keep some cash to himself, the real crime is the deceitful lies.

  191. And now he says he's bi-polar and manic depressive. What he is in fact is yet another pathetic fraud enabled online by social media and in real life by some incredibly naive people. There is no shortage of frauds or the easily defrauded. They've always attracted each other.

  192. Love the way he immediately claimed another illness to excuse his scam.

  193. This is the second story (Dan Mallory the first) I've read this year where a long time cheating con man has attempted to blame his deceptions on being bipolar in order to avoid blame and elicit futher sympathy. It's yet another attempted scam.

  194. @Dee Jeff Epstein's fame seems to be unraveling too . Will he be the next fraud claiming Bi-polar disease ?

  195. Interesting coincidence that Pelotonia’s chief executive, Doug Ulman, once ran Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation. He's either soiling himself for gross gullibility/incompetence, or of dubious scruples himself.

  196. @Matthew Not true. Doug Ullman is an upstanding person. He was with the Lance Armstrong Foundation/Livevstrong and he is with Pelotonia.

  197. @Mary A - then why isn't Pelotonia listed with Charity Navigator, which would include disclosing the CEO's salary?

  198. What an elaborate scheme to deceive the public. Using a fake brain cancer diagnosis to engender sympathy and undeserved donations is reprehensible and illegal. And in the end, no charges filed against him? This is almost laughable if not for the countless innocent black children and adult men and women charged with an array of trumped up offenses in this country. I can only imagine had Looker been black, he most certainly would have been charge with several counts of fraud and likely jailed.

  199. @BerkeleyMom Oh please---not the race card.

  200. This is the reason I don't give to popular charities. This country has lost it's moral compass, and it's ok to scam anyone you can. I guess that Lance Armstrong kicking off the first event should have been a clue. He was also a fraud and cheater. So sad...

  201. @Psyfly John Lance Armstrong has nothing to do with this organization.

  202. @Mary A - the CEO of Livestrong during the heyday of Lance Armstrong was Doug Ulman - Ulman left after Armstrong's fall from grace to run Pelotonia, creating another culture of fraud-tolerance in service to fundraising

  203. It sounds to me like Looker has Munchausen's syndrome.

  204. Is it true that Looker has accepted a cabinet position for the liar-in-chief? While it may be a rumor, his profile matches the cabinet members installed and annointed by djt who are fraudsters and con-artists. We will have to "wait and see," as djt so often retorts. Looker has markers of a Munchausen syndrome pretender, following the pattern of behaviors, but with a calculated twist. Looker achieved the personal reward of fooling medical professionals (like the physician in this case) and businessmen for y-e-a-r-s. He became a star for the races, a survivor of one cancer after another--while never exhibiting weight loss or treatment side effects/adverse effects... (wha?) What a perfect hero! If his doubters exposed him, they would expose themselves for having been duped. Looker is a skilled embezzler. (When someone tells you who he is, believe him the first time.) His ultimate payoff was the money he skimmed, the total known only to him. This fraudster feels superior in deceiving others.The longer he got away with it the more he thought he would continue to get away with it. And his penalty: his hands were spanked. He will do this again.

  205. What about fraud charges? This guy claims another disease to excuse a false one, what a piece of work. There is something particularly heinous about someone essentially stealing funds from someone that really is suffering from cancer.

  206. Don't worry. Looker will resurface soon, as a prominent appointee in the Trump administration. A perfect fit for his skill set.

  207. Really annoying that this fraud attempted to use the excuse of being "manic depressive and bipolar". For one thing, it sounds self-diagnosed because those are two terms for the same condition, and the first term is no longer used by psychiatrists. But a bigger concern is that people with bipolar disorder do not fail to understand the concepts of right and wrong. Committing massive, sustained fraud, taking charitable donations and spending them on oneself, and lying to one's friends for years is not a symptom of bipolar disorder. So this fraud is trying to excuse himself by claiming a psychiatric condition he probably does not have, and thus adding to the stigma of having that condition. There are mental disorders that would lend themselves to this sort of behavior, like psychosis, sociopathy, or just being a pathological liar like Trump. But what Looker should really have come out and admitted was, I loved the attention and sympathy and I've been living a lie for my own benefit.

  208. @Dan Stackhouse Personality disorders ( e.g., borderline, antisocial, narcissistic) can be associated with such behaviors. Psychotic disorders, of which schizophrenia and bipolar disorder ( patients can develop manic psychosis) are representative illnesses, would rarely be associated with this kind of sustained and highly organized behavior.

  209. And the point of the article is what, that smart people can be fooled? This incident involved a de minimis amount of money and doesn't justify the coverage you give it, unless the headline was written to serve as click-bait.

  210. This is either a straightforward fraud case or an instance of Munchausens Disease. Either way, a sad story.

  211. “He was so good at his crime,” she said. -- That or Dr. LeMay was really bad at being a doctor.

  212. How could anyone believe Mr. Addison was not in on this fraud? You live with someone for 17 years, who claims has had multiple types of cancer and his excuse was that "he was traveling for work" LOL!, what a joke, my 9 year old lies better than this.

  213. @Mike O " my 9 year old lies better than this." How would you know?

  214. This sounds like something Don Trump would do if he hadn't had a rich Daddy.

  215. @Jenifer It happened during the Obama Administration.

  216. @Shamrock. Shamrock, nobody is saying it didn't.

  217. @Shamrock But it is Trump’s behaviour, on an hourly basis. And many of his followers love it too.

  218. When one denies the order of the universe, all kinds of moral and spiritual consequences follow. So sad, so pathetic.

  219. @calleefornia And so baffling a comment. What were you trying to say?

  220. “The Fake Face of a Cancer Fighting Bike-a-thon” - an irresponsible click bait headline on the front page. Pelotonia nets over $20 million per year for the James. This guy is hardly the face of Pelotonia. Most big cancer centers have charity bike races like this and I would be shocked if no one in these races had ever pretended to have cancer for the associated secondary gain. These races are hardly bake sales. They fund early projects not yet mature enough for NIH funding. So they fill an important role. FYI.

  221. @Brad when Looker was THE highlight in the Opening Ceremonies video of 2011 and on stage multiple years after he absolutely was the face of Pelotonia. The entire community saw him that way. He created such a hype that helped catapult Pelotonia. Sorry, but it's true. #loveforlooker

  222. @Brad riding this weekend???...

  223. @M from Kentucky, Living in Columbus, my impression of the face of Pelotonia is all of the green arrows everywhere. As to what catapulted Pelotonia, if you think this clown is the answer, I have some real estate you might be interested in buying. And since you want to make it personal...I am riding this weekend and I nominate you to review the medical records of all those claiming to be cancer survivors. Thanks in advance for supporting cancer research.

  224. A fool and his money......Races of all kinds raise large amounts of money with no accountability. Races attract lonely people, those same people who make social media corporations so rich.

  225. @pb Like the 24,000 "lonely" people who turn out every year for the NYC marathon?

  226. False hope. The most savage of his crimes.

  227. That his partner didn't know strains belief....

  228. @JJ Don't worry about it, JJ. He didn't ask you to believe him.

  229. There's a job waiting for him at the Trump Foundation.

  230. As is usual with charming frauds, charlatans, and cons, people so much wanted it all to be true ............

  231. A mentally ill man from “Nerk” as the locals call it, fakes cancer and keeps a few hundred dollars. His yard sale proceeds were a grift to charity. It horrifies me to know I live so close to such a monster. Imagine if a mentally ill person pretends to be a genius. That could REALLY be serious.

  232. @Lillijag YEA- if a mentally ill person pretended to be a genius, he might just win the Republican nomination and by 70,000 swing state votes become President of The United States.

  233. @Lillijag Hee-hee! I see what you did!

  234. you horrify too easily

  235. In an email, Daniel H. Rosenthal, chairman of Pelotonia’s board, said that “Pelotonia simply cannot independently verify what each individual participant says about themselves.” Hogwash. They "need" to verify Mr Looker's confession that he lied about it all?

  236. You can pervert motherhood, apple pie and charity and all have been perverted. That is why I never give to charities like this unless it is hands on. They are the most abused of all. Better to let the gov't and people like Gates, Buffert etc. who supervise their charities to do the heavy lifting here.

  237. The 2013 post quoted in the article— Misspelling chondrosarcoma and making the absurd assertion that cancer had "slipped into my pelvis through a hairline fracture in my tailbone" that he of course sustained during a 2011 ride— Should have immediately aroused suspicion and doubt. A physician MD

  238. @srwdm instead, Pelotonia praised him further. Even announcing a "Love for Looker" day. momentum, momentum, momentum....

  239. @srwdm - the misspelling I can overlook. Those cancers have long technical names. I am a layperson with limited knowledge of cancer but the idea that it had slipped into hairline fracture really made my fraud antenna stand up. But I'm no expert, it just seemed weird.

  240. There's a sucker born every day. And they all live in Pelotonia it seems. And Mr. Looker's partner seems to be just as delusional as he claims to be. Looker wanted the fame, he wanted the excitement, he wanted the money (but not that much). That is not my definition of a mental illness, just human nature and greed. But this story will happen again, some one else will mesmerize a town, tug at heart strings, and get away with it, up to a point. P. T. Barnum said it all.

  241. @elained I would not blame his victims for this. If my neighbor said "I have cancer," I'm not going to demand that she prove it before continuing the conversation. Looker was also convincing enough to fool a doctor who knew him personally. Nor does being associated with a charity event make people especially gullible. People are fooled and defrauded all the time. Some people are just really good at lying, and most people are awful at detecting lies.

  242. There should be a position for this dude in the Trump administration. Appalling.

  243. @Peter I think you are confused on the years. This took place during the Obama Administration. He was caught during the Trump administration.

  244. @Peter Sounds like a high TRUMP Cabinet position according to his qualifications. Lying, denial, fraud, duplicity...why not make him TRUMP Chief of Staff, or National Security Advisor?

  245. @Shamrock Peter wasn;t blaming ANY administration, just tryng to make a comfortable fit for the present.

  246. I would like a research into the "miraculous" polio vaccine to treat GBM at Duke University, NC be pursued. I believe is another sham.

  247. @Maita Moto Oh. Well. tell them about that. And then feel free to rejoin us on THIS story.

  248. I don’t understand your comment!

  249. @Maita Moto That's okay. I didn't understand what your comment had to do with this story.

  250. As a person with bipolar disorder II (manic depressive disorder), I find Looker’s defense of his actions to be DISGUSTING. People with bipolar are no more likely to be compulsive liars and commit fraud than anyone else. I hope that his defense is rejected with the scorn that it deserves.

  251. Were there any doubt, Trump has shown the world how gullible many Americans are.

  252. Puh-leez. If he had, as he claimed, "Stage 4 terminal brain cancer" in 2011, by 2018 he would either have been miraculously cured, or dead. This one was blatantly obvious.

  253. "He said he had been given a diagnosis as 'manic depressant and bipolar,' which caused him to lie about the brain cancer." This inaccurate statement does a disservice to people living with mood disorders. Bipolar disorder can be accompanied by episodes of disinhibition, an amplified sense of what one can accomplish, and/or difficulty decision-making. It does not, however, "cause" a person to maintain a sustained unscrupulous, self-serving campaign of dishonesty.

  254. While faking cancer is rare, this case is certainly not unprecedented. Australia had its own version of this a few years ago with Belle Gibson, a young woman who also said she had brain cancer. She became something of a wellness guru, saying that her diet and alternative therapies were keeping her cancer from advancing. But she never had the cancer, and was finally outed as Mr. Looker was.