A beauty queen who shaved her head to con friends and family into believing she was battling cancer has denied pocketing thousands from the scam.

Ex-Miss Pennsylvania International US, Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, pretended she had chronic lymphocytic leukemia in March 2013.

The 23-year-old is accused of pocketing cash from fundraisers organised by her loved ones to pay for her fake treatment, the last of which raised $14,000 (£8,948).

Following her arrest, Weaver-Gates was charged with felony counts of theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

She has been held on $150,000 bail at the Centre County Corrections Facility since her arrest.

The student allegedly made friends and family drive her to hospital appointments, leaving them to wait for up to eight hours for her while she went elsewhere.

She posted images on Facebook showing her wearing bandages and surgical masks and with a shaved head.

She also gave extensive newspaper interviews about her cancer and even posted less than three weeks ago about being in remission.

Her alleged fraud was only exposed after police received an anonymous tip-off saying she could not name a single one of her doctors.

State Police Trooper Thomas Stock contacted the hospitals at which Weaver-Gates said she was treated for her cancer – but there was no mention of her anywhere in their records.

Stock called her efforts to make people believe she had cancer “an elaborate scheme”.

Following her arrest, Weaver-Gates was stripped of her Miss Pennsylvania US International title.

    “When you deceive the public and take people’s money that is under the pretense of fraud, we will not tolerate those actions,” said a statement from the pageant organisers Butler’s Beauties .”Ms. Weaver-Gates … will be required to return her crown and sash upon her release from being detained.”