Delran Woman Charged in Phony Cancer Fundraising Scheme
A Delran woman has been arrested for allegedly soliciting and accepting charitable contributions while falsely claiming to be undergoing cancer treatments.
40-year-old Lori E. Stilley has been charged with theft by deception. She surrendered at the Delran Police Department Wednesday morning and is now free on $25,000 bail.
The investigation revealed that in February 2011, Stilley told those close to her that she had been diagnosed with Stage III bladder cancer, and would be undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment. Stilley also posted this information on Facebook and her personal website. In April 2011, Stilley indicated the bladder cancer had become Stage IV.
She told relatives and friends that she did not have healthcare insurance, and several initiatives began to raise money for her treatment and medical expenses. The investigation revealed that Stilley had never been treated for -- or even diagnosed with -- cancer.
Through a t-shirt sale, fundraising banquet, cash raffle and an e-book written by Stilley about her daily struggle to cope with cancer, authorities say she received over $12,400 in proceeds.
In November 2011, as Stilley was preparing to receive what supporters thought was necessary hospice care, she posted a message on her Facebook page that indicated she was feeling better and believed that a miracle was coming. As a result, she postponed the hospice care. It was at that point that her supporters became suspicious.
“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. “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.”
The case will be presented to a Burlington County grand jury for indictment.