Is faking a serious illness so you can get cash and a wedding the new new? Earlier this year, a bridezilla got a wedding and cash gifts after lying about having leukemia and now a 40-year-old NJ woman has been charged with theft by deception for taking $10,000 after telling her friends and family that she (falsely) had stage 3 bladder cancer. As the Burlington County Times puts it, "Her friends and family knew something was amiss when Lori E. Stilley canceled her hospice care for bladder cancer, citing a 'miracle' recovery."
Stilley, of Delran, NJ, told her friends—and to the world at large on Facebook and her website—that she had stage 3 bladder cancer in February 2011. Then, in April 2011, she said it became stage 4 and revealed she didn't have health insurance. So her friends rallied to her support, by raising money. According to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, "The investigation revealed that Stilley had never been treated for or even diagnosed with cancer."
Relatives and friends organized a t-shirt sale and held a fundraising banquet in July 2011 that raised more than $8,400. Another fundraiser and cash raffle in the summer of 2011 raised an additional $1,000.
In addition, Stilley authored an e-book that discussed her daily struggle to cope with cancer. It was posted for sale in October 2011 on Stilley’s personal website at a cost of $14.99 and generated more than $3,000 in proceeds.
When Stilley indicated she wanted to marry her boyfriend before she died, her friends and family planned the wedding and the marriage took place nine days later. Friends and family members negotiated the cost of the wedding hall down to $500 and covered the cost themselves. Stilley also received donations of gift cards totaling more than $1,600.
Friends also organized meals to be dropped off at Stilley's home and rallied with "Team Lori" on Twitter. But, then, in November, she told friends that she thought a "miracle" was in the works.
Stilley's lawyer called the accusations that his client faked cancer "slanderous" and when asked if she did have cancer, he said, I have not received any evidence to the contrary.” But Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi said, "Cancer causes so much pain and hardship for those who are suffering through it, as well as for family members and friends. 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."