Uncovering Dying Daughter Hoax That Lured in Several Celebrities


"That song has been incredibly meaningful to me," she said. "I have often wished I could thank her for that."

Both mothers said that they were motivated to speak out about Jackson to raise awareness about pediatric cancer. Skees urged those who want to learn more about the issues that are specific to childhood cancer to watch a film called "The Truth 365."

Reaching the woman behind the hoax, even after we learned her identity, was not easy. Jackson posted bail and got out in January, but it was hard to get in touch with her because she used multiple phone numbers that she changed frequently. But after a couple of in-person visits to the courthouse during her legal proceedings -- she pled guilty and got five years probation -- Jackson agreed to talk to us on camera.

"I can look back on it now and see how much pain all my actions have caused," she told "Nightline's" David Wright, "but it'll never make it right."

For the most part, she did not want to name other famous victims, but she did say that she had spoken to Johnny Depp once on the phone using the same sob story, and received some "board games," "blankets" and "lunch boxes" from him. His representative declined to comment.

She insisted that her stories were not about gaining material goods but instead "love" and "acceptance" that she went about trying to get "in the wrong way."

We asked University of Alabama psychiatrist Dr. Marc Feldman to come to the edit room to watch Jackson's interview. Feldman coined the term "Munchausen by Internet" in 2000 to describe a mental illness that involves feigning or exaggerating illnesses online. Though Jackson is not his patient, he said that she clearly seems to be clear example of this condition.

"The person is embroiled in the day-to-day minutiae of telling their stories to others on the Internet," he said, describing the typical Munchausen by Internet patient, "but they're overlooking the deep-seated emotional pain that may be a depression."

The last time we spoke to Jackson in late October, she said that she is in counseling twice a week in Douglas and on several medications for depression and anxiety. Court documents had also revealed a diagnosis of depression. She said that there are issues from her childhood that she is now working to resolve.

"Everybody has something in their past that's happened to them, you know, that's not good," Jackson said. "That doesn't mean they go out and hurt other people."

We continue to find remnants of Jackson's hoaxes all over the Internet, from this memorial website to a tweet from Glee star Naya Rivera that appears to reference one of Jackson's familiar story lines. We wonder how many other people will come forward after this piece airs to say that they, too, heard from Jackson or one of her aliases.

In the end, it was a far cry from a financial scheme that led Hope Jackson to lie to so many people. Many of her victims say that they hope that Jackson gets the help and emotional support that she needs. They also conveyed to us their heartfelt desire that this strange, sad tale not dampen people's willingness to respond to strangers in need.

"That's a huge part of why I do what I do is so that I can use my influence for good and to help," Kimberly Williams-Paisley said. "And if there is someone that I can help, I will help."

Tune in to a special edition of "Nightline" TONIGHT at 12:35 a.m. ET

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