40-year-old Lori E. Stilley was charged by Burlington county, New Jersey prosecutors after taking $15,000 in donations in a cancer scam.
Stilley claimed she was suffering from bladder cancer, and set up a fund that she named “Team Lori.” Her charity organized t-shirt sales, fundraisers and raffles in her name, raising money to help her cope with the fatal condition.
After telling her friends that her stage 3 cancer required chemotherapy and radiation, and that she didn't have medical insurance, they started raising money and bringing her meals, NY Daily News
They pitched in and organized a meal calendar, supporting her by dropping off meals in turns. “Dates were scheduled months in advance by people who committed to make and drop off dinners,” prosecutor Robert Bernardi said.
According to the Huffington Post
, after her cancer story reached a Facebook support group, Lori even wrote an e-book that sold in great numbers, titled “Impossible: How A Facebook Group Loved Me Through Bladder Cancer.” The book made her over $3,000, selling at $14.99 a copy.
“My prognosis remains grim. I remain hopeful. It’s all I’ve got. I know I need a miracle, but I also know they happen... I never in a million years thought this would grow as big as it has gotten. I am so humbled and grateful that it has,” her book read.
When Lori announced on Facebook that she had reached stage 4, in which cancerous cells spread all over your body, she made one final wish. She publicized her desire to marry her boyfriend before her imminent death. Friends and neighbors planned and paid for Stilley's wedding, negotiating for best prizes because of her alleged fatal medical condition.
It wasn't until she posted on Facebook that she was starting to recover, on Nov. 2011, that they became suspicious. Her sister, Lisa DiGiovanni, came forward and gave her up to authorities, after finding out that Stilley had her own two children convinced she would be dying of cancer.
"My parents tried to make me feel like I had betrayed my sister and betrayed them (but) I wanted my niece and nephew and my sister to get help," DiGiovanni said.
Stilley is currently out on bail, after being formally charged with soliciting and accepting charitable contributions.