An amateur poker player claimed to have been diagnosed with terminal cancer to help raise money to enter the World Series of Poker Main Event. On Tuesday, Rob Mercer revealed he lied about his diagnosis and never had any form of cancer.
Mercer, who is from Vallejo, California, stated in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he started a GoFundMe page in June to help raise money to play in the WSOP $10,000 buy-in no-limit Hold'em World Championship.
"I did lie about having colon cancer. I don't have colon cancer. I used that to cover my situation," Mercer said. "What I did was wrong. I shouldn't have told people I have colon cancer. I did that just as a spur-of-the-moment thing when someone asked me what kind of cancer I had.
"I'm sorry for not being honest about what my situation was. If I would have done that from Day 1, who knows what would have happened."
The 37-year-old ended up receiving donations that totaled between $30,000 and $50,000, which also included him staying in a suite at the Bellagio in July during the tournament. Mercer also received $2,5000 from Cody Daniels, an ill poker player who was also set to compete in the WSOP Main Event.
Mercer revealed he was contacted by a GoFundMe representative for violating its terms of service. He doesn't have any plans to repay the money dozens of people donated to his cause since he believes he has undiagnosed breast cancer. Mercer also thinks those donations were made because he was ill.
On Wednesday, people that donated to Mercer's GoFundMe campaign were told the company was issuing refunds for those charitable contributions.
"At the end of the day I lied to a lot of people because I was scared to tell the truth," Mercer said. "And I guess I'll have to pay for that."