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Man Asks If He'd Be Wrong To Report His Mentally-Ill Sister To Authorities After Finding Out She's Defrauding People

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We're always told to stick by our family, no matter what. But if one of our family members is doing something illegal, and may even need medical attention, what should we do to help them?

One Redditor found himself wrestling with these questions when he started to have suspicions that his sister suffers from schizophrenia. When he discovered she's also scamming people out of money, maliciously or not.

Redditor "dariusphoenix" wrote into the "Am I the A**hole?" (AITA) subReddit with a hypothetical "Would I Be The A**hole" (WIBTA) question.

The Redditor asked the thread:

"[Would I be the a**hole] for reporting my (29[male]) sister (35[female]) to the authorities?"

The Redditor only recently found out what his sister is doing.

"Some hours ago I discovered my sister is charging 50$/person for massive classes of 'acupuncture' to 'cure' [virus symptoms]."

The situation is more complicated, as his sister may also be mentally ill.

"My sister is potentially schizophrenic. I started suspecting something was wrong around six months ago. My mother is in absolute denial, and after a big fight, I left home and placed a strict no-contact rule with them."
"She joined a cult some years ago, one of these miracle curing cancer with the power of prayer. It was not until she recently opened a YouTube channel when a cousin contacted me to tell me how concerned she was about the mental health of my sister, and confessed me some secrets my sister had told her:"
"According to my cousin, my sister insists that she hears voices, but she swears she's talking directly to God. She also has 'breaks from reality' where she doesn't recognize anyone around her. After my cousin told me this, a lot of things clicked. We have a long history of schizophrenia in my family (three uncles and one first-cousin)."

The Redditor reached out to a lawyer to see what his options would be to help.

"After I learned this information, I contacted a lawyer just to inform myself about the options around this matter, and long story short, she told me 'either you get in hard, or you forget about this'."
"She insisted there was no soft way to force someone to get a diagnosis unless she gets in trouble and someone's sues her for malpractice, or someone inside the family declares her intellectually incompetent."

At the time, the Redditor decided not to get involved.

"I decided to not step in. I do not have resources nor energy to get so involved. I somehow convinced myself that it wouldn't get worse so quickly."

That was until he discovered her potential behaviors of fraud and malpractice.

"But today I just found out she's been giving massive acupuncture classes to LARGE GROUPS OF PEOPLE promising them to 'alleviate [virus] symptoms", and it's charging 50$ per entrance."
"Her first event was extremely successful, since there is a lot of people who are desperate in my country (México). She's going to give a second one."
"Until now I swore to myself that I wouldn't be the one to report her to the authorities, because I know very d**n well how psychiatric wards look like, the abuse that takes place from inside, and just emotionally I couldn't handle it. I saw my first-cousin go through all of that. I guess a part of me is still so shocked and in denial."

The Redditor is now seeking advice on whether or not he should become actively involved.

"Tomorrow I'm going to contact the same lawyer with the new information regarding the [virus alleviation] courses, just to learn and inform myself."
"But please, people, tell me. WOULD I BE THE A**HOLE IF I REPORTED MY SISTER TO THE AUTHORITIES FOR MALPRACTICE AND INTELLECTUAL INCOMPETENCE?"

Redditors wrote in on the OP's (Original Poster's) dilemma, using the following scale:

  • NTA: "Not the A**hole"
  • YTA: "You're the A**hole"
  • ESH: "Everybody Sucks Here"
  • NAH: "No A**holes Here"

Some argued that the OP would not be in the wrong for reporting his sister, even though he may find it difficult to do so.

"NTA, pretty sure it's illegal to perform acupuncture on someone without a license! Please call it in before she hurts someone!" - smileygirl216
"100% NTA. Even if your sister is mentally ill and genuinely believes in her 'cures' that doesn't change the fact she's scamming desperate people. You even said yourself the whole thing was malpractice and her sources of treatment come from voices she hears. I know the guilt that comes with having to be the one who has to call out/report someone you care about, but either way you definitely did the right thing!" - CloverVille79
"Also she could end up doing some serious damage to someone if she doesn't know the correct placement of the needles. There have been reports of serious things going wrong when gotten bad acupuncture. Could you live yourself knowing she was doing harm to others and you didn't do anything about it?" - italy2986
"NTA, but Oof what a dilemma. Being Mexican myself I'm well aware of the strong stigma regarding mental illness in Mexico and I know I'm preaching to the choir when I say that psychological and psychiatric care in Mexico is sub par as a result of that stigma. Especially with a disease like schizophrenia with strong positive symptoms, it's quick for people even health care professionals to dismiss them as 'another crazy'."
"This kinda boils down to a version of the trolley problem in my opinion. She's very much putting people in danger not only by distributing misinformation that could risk people's health but also with practical negligence."
"So do you protect family from the rough experience of psychiatric institutions or protect the public from her negligence?"
"All I can say man, is that you couldn't be blamed for keeping your community's health in mind." - firulaisonreddit

Others agreed with this and went so far as to say that the OP would be TA if he chose to ignore the situation.

"NTA, you are saving several other lives by doing it. If she has any kind of mental disorder I'm pretty sure she doesn't care about needle sterilization or other kind of sanitary practices. You cannot only transmite [viral symptoms] on those kind of events, you can transmit several other diseases. She might suffer but at least she will stop harming others and being a risk to society."
"I dont think the mexican authorities would do something if they don't have any kind of compensation or pressure. That's why I am asking you to please check with your lawyer if you can contact some news paper like animal político, artistegui noticias or your preferred. And tell them about that kind of practices they are doing, hopefully they will help with some research."
"If you can do something please do it , I've lost a family member and 2 childhood friends because of that kind of scammers." - serialkittenhugger
"NTA - Your TA if you DONT. This is f**king serious, that kind of misinformation could actually kill someone. Yes report her IMMEDIATELY." - ThankVerra

A few also wanted to point out that not only is the OP not AH, but neither is the sister, because of her potential mental illness.

"I am going to say NAH because if your sister is mentally ill, she's not scamming people on purpose. But please, report her asap. If she gets caught before a history of mental illness is established, she might be looking at a really long jail sentence. There is still no guarantee she won't face legal penalties at some point, but authorities probably will be more lenient." - macaroniinapan
"Yes! This is an awful situation all around. I can't begin to imagine what his sister is going through so I can't truly call her the AH. People with untreated schizophrenia truly believe in things that aren't real."
"Op is also definitely not the AH because what she's doing is dangerous and intervention is warranted."
"NAH" - lazy_moss_sloth

It's quite the situation for the OP to find himself in. But at least according to Reddit, it would be best for the OP to reach out to a professional, even if it causes a rift within the family.

His sister's health and well-being may depend on his intervention.