New Jersey Woman Charged with Fraud for Faking Cancer in Fundraising Scam

This is an update to the story you may or may not have heard about by this point.  A Burlington County woman named Lori Stilley was arrested and charged with fabricating a story about having bladder cancer and then raising 15k in donations for treatment.

The money was raised through sales of a t-shirt bearing the phrase ‘Team Lori’, fundraiser events, and the sale of an e-book that she wrote, titled Impossible: How a Facebook Group Loved Me Through Bladder Cancer.

What the Burlington County woman actually paid for included was a wedding in which the price was greatly reduced because she told organizers that one of her dying wishes was to marry her boyfriend before she passed away.  She also allowed friends to set up a meal assistance calendar for months worth of prepared meals to be dropped off to her.
In the end, it was the woman’s sister who told prosecutors about the scam.  It was reported by ABC News that the woman’s own children were even in the dark regarding their mother’s actual clean bill of health.  Although the woman’s friends had voiced growing suspicion following a Facebook post regarding a miraculous miracle that the woman had experienced, curing her of the disease.

What are the penalties related to the criminal charges related to fraud?

In this instance, the woman would be charged with theft by deception, a violation of NJ statute 2C:20-4.   Theft by deception under New Jersey State Law is described as ”

Creating or reinforcing a false impression, including false impressions as to law, value, intention or other state of mind, and including, but not limited to, a false impression that the person is soliciting or collecting funds for a charitable purpose; but deception as to a person’s intention to perform a promise shall not be inferred from the fact alone that he did not subsequently perform the promise;

What is also included in this law is the failure to correct a false impression which the person has previously perpetrated or reinforced for the purpose of benefiting financially.  It is also noted in the law that the deception is not deemed illegal if the the falsehood is proven to be unknown to the defendant, if no significant gain was obtained through the falsehood, or if the falsehood was an exaggeration unlikely to deceive and ordinary person or group.
There are other factors at play involving the conveyance and proof that the knowledge was false and the value and method of transfer of money in which the defendant benefited from the falsehood,  but a successful defense against this charge could likely hinge on one of those last three factors mentioned in the statute.
If someone is found guilty or pleads guilty to criminal charges related to NJ 2C:20-4, the penalties can include a prison sentence of between 18 months and 20 years and fines between $500 – $200,000, depending on the amount of money involved.

If you have been charged with fraud in New Jersey

If you have been charged with fraud in any of the townships in Burlington County, including Mt. Holly, Mt. Laurel, Southampton, or anywhere else in Southern New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Joseph Lombardo today.  Mr. Lombardo, a former Municipal Prosecutor, has been representing individuals charged with crimes in New Jersey since 1993.  He will step in to ensure that your rights are protected, you do not do anything to incriminate yourself, and  that the circumstances and evidence involved in your arrested and investigation are valid.  He will work to have the charges against you reduced or dropped, while preparing your case for trial, if it is necessary.  Call to schedule a free, initial consultation today.

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