A Burlington County, N.J., woman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly scamming friends and relatives out of more than $10,000 by faking cancer.
Lori E. Stilley, 40, of Delran, was charged with theft by deception and surrendered to police with her lawyer Wednesday morning. She was released after posting $25,000 bail.
According to prosecutors, Stilley began the scam in February 2011 when she told those close to her she had been diagnosed with Stage III bladder cancer and posted a message on her Facebook page and personal website. In April 2011, Stilley allegedly claimed the cancer had become Stage IV.
Stilley told family and friends that she did not have health insurance, and as a result supporters raised more than $9,400 through t-shirt sales and a cash raffle, prosecutors said. Stilley also wrote an e-book that detailed her daily struggle with the disease, which she posted for sale on her website in October 2011. Prosecutors said sales of the book generated more than $3,000.
Additionally, prosecutors said Stilley said she wanted to marry her boyfriend before she died. Her family and friends planned the wedding, got a wedding hall to drop the price down to $500, paid for the hall and the marriage took place nine days later. She also received more than $1,600 in gift cards.
Prosecutors said people even prepared and delivered meals for Stilley after her friends created a meal calendar.
Stilley's supporters finally became suspicious in November of last year when, as she was preparing for what supporters thought was hospice care, she posted a message on Facebook that she was feeling better and she believed a miracle was coming. She then postponed the hospice care.
Prosecutors said the investigation revealed that Stilley had never been treated for or even diagnosed with cancer.
"Cancer causes so much pain and hardship for those who are suffering through it, as well as for family members and friends," Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi said in a statement. "For this defendant to represent that she was dying from this terrible disease for the sake of personal gain and sympathy goes way beyond simply being a criminal offense; it was extremely cruel to those who were concerned and worked hard to lend assistance."