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Police: Delran Woman Swindles Friends with Cancer Scheme

Friends and family fundraised thousands for Lori Stilley, brought her meals and even paid for a wedding under the notion she was dying of bladder cancer.

Lori Stilley's "miracle" recovery from bladder cancer was bogus—just like the cancer itself, police say.

Claiming she was dying from bladder cancer, the 40-year-old Delran woman received meals, money, gifts, even a wedding from family and friends who organized charitable efforts on her behalf.

Turns out, Stilley didn't have cancer at all—and now, she could face serious jail time.

Stilley, of Suburban Boulevard in Delran, was charged with third-degree theft by deception, according to Burlington County Prosecutor Robert D. Bernardi and Delran Police Chief Alfonso A. Parente, Jr. She surrendered today with counsel at the Delran Police Department and was released after posting $25,000 bail.

After a long investigation, authorities found out Stilley told close friends and family she had been diagnosed with stage III bladder cancer and would undergo radiation and chemotherapy. Stilley posted this information on Facebook and a personal website she created. In April of last year, Stilley updated her cancer status to stage IV.

She told relatives and friends she did not have health insurance, well-wishers leapt to the rescue, authorities say. Several started fundraising for her treatment and medical bills. 

A sale and fundraising banquet organized in July 2011 raised more than $8,400. Another fundraiser and cash raffle netted an additional $1,000.

Stilley allegedly kept up the charade, even authoring an e-book that discussed her daily struggle to cope with cancer. In October, she posted it for sale on her personal website for $14.99 and generated more than $3,000 in proceeds.

Stilley then said she wanted to marry her boyfriend before she died. Friends and family planned a wedding and the marriage took place nine days later. The cost of the wedding hall was negotiated down to $500 and friends and family covered the cost themselves.

A friend of Stilley also made a meal calendar that was posted on Stilley's website. People signed up to make and drop off dinners to the woman. Stilley also received donations of gift cards totaling more than $1,600.

Family and friends finally questioned Stilley in November of last year when Stilley said plans for hospice care were cancelled because she was feeling better and she "believed a miracle was coming."

Law enforcement officials discovered 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,” 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. The investigation was conducted by detectives from the Delran Township Police Department and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit.

Ellie A. September 26, 2012 at 09:30 PM
This is just horrifying. How could someone do this? A friend of mine donated some money when she heard about it last year. This is truly awful.
Cristina balazo September 26, 2012 at 10:05 PM
This lady truly has illness. Cancer is not something you go around saying you have. This woman has affected so many others lives just by one lie. I feel sorry for the caring people who truly tried to help her
Alice Keane Adams September 26, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Wow!!! This is just horrible. I feel bad for the people that cared for this woman and took the time to cook for her and raise money on her behalf. Many people suffer from cancer and it is a horrific disease, to use that to swindle good people out of their money and time is really sick. I pray for all the people who are really suffering from the disease. I hope justice will be served!!!!
Bowtie September 27, 2012 at 12:29 AM
Wow...
Alice Keane Adams September 27, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Michelle, I wish you the best with your treatment. I agree with you some people just don't care who they hurt to get what they want. I will keep you in my prayers.
concernedandworried September 27, 2012 at 03:39 AM
This makes me sad to think someone would do such a think. My prayers go out to those that do!
Jay Taylor September 27, 2012 at 10:24 AM
This woman is married to my ex-brother inlaw. He has abanded both his kids shortly after their marriage. So the old saying tu.s true. "Karma will always get ya!"
FbS September 27, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Just think how bad her life is to pull something as horrible as this off? So sad.
Pat September 27, 2012 at 01:58 PM
We are victims of our commonly held belief that there is good in everyone, We think that our neighbor couldn't possibly do something this bad. It never enters our mind so we are ripe to be conned. Read the best seller by psychologist Martha Stout called "The Sociopath Next Door". You'll learn that 1 out of 25 people are born with no conscience at all. They have no empathy for people, they have just learned to fake it. They could kill without a second thought. They don't because they could get caught, not because it would bother them. A researcher at UPenn has studied their brains which are different than normal people. Some of them are in prison but the others are among us conning, manipulating and controlling anyone who comes in contact with them. Many are drawn to occupations that provide them with the chance to play these kinds of games with people. Teacher, lawyer, CEO, politicians...many are very successful in life and are well respected. They use two big weapons, first charm, and if that doesn't work, they get you to pity them. They know how to read people to find and exploit their weaknesses. Read this book and you will suddenly look differently at some of the people in your past or present...and you will learn how to spot them and how to avoid being conned and manipulated by them.
Christa September 27, 2012 at 03:02 PM
This is so sick..my mother actually had cancer and i can believe someone would make this up..
Christina Paciolla (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 03:06 PM
If someone donated money to Stilley, or knows someone who did, and he or she could like to talk to me for a story on Cinnaminson Patch, email me at christina.paciolla@patch.com.
Cynthia September 27, 2012 at 07:16 PM
This story reminds me of the WI Capitol protester called segway boy that has said for months he is dying and going to hospice... he begs for money for rent, cell phone, food, even marijuana. It's sickening!!
Jill September 30, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Ms. Stilley is not unique. Plenty of people have falsely claimed to be war heros, former Navy SEALS, Vietnam Vets and yes, even cancer victims, to gain sympathy or to make themselves feel important. One woman even bound her breasts and shaved her head before joining a breast cancer support group. She was healthy (physically anyway) but she craved being part of a community that was looked upon with compassion and sympathy. A museum in the Southwest hired a man who claimed to have been a Green Beret in the Vietnam War to set up an exhibit of Army Ranger gear. The guy did a good job, but it turned out he'd never served in Vietnam. In fact he'd never been in any branch of the military. Interestingly, women who make up false claims usually pretend to have a life-threatening disease while men claim to have had heroic war experiences. Unlike a previous commenter I don't want Ms. Stilley to die a horrible death (what kind of a person would say that?) I do hope, however, that she gets help for her problem.
Chris Traynor September 30, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I'm so very sorry for you. I know quite a bit about huge health challenges and the toll it takes on a person so I do hope that you are blessed with a full recovery. There aren't many "benefits" to long frightening illnesses but you do receive clearer vision when it comes to compassion for your fellow human being. I'm no saint but many times I've had occasion to say "I wouldn't wish what happened to me on my worst enemy" and really mean it. With that preamble, I'm sadly surprised that you would characterize this woman as "pure trash" and then wish a "slow, painful death" on her - a fate that you, yourself, must immensely fear. I don't know your religious affiliation but I'm tempted to say "that's not very Christian" of you. Instead, I'll just say that's not very human of you. P.S. To all those who use computer technology to wantonly unleash aggressive and punishing snap judgments on people you don't know, I would urge you to try a new frame of reference before hitting the "SUBMIT" button. If what you just typed isn't something you would say in public or directly to the person in question - take that as a massive clue that its probably terribly inappropriate or plainly mean or both - and then go back to your written passage and edit out all the false "binary bravado" this disguised and anonymous internet medium provides you with and downshift back to the human you once were (someone I'd guess was a more civil version of the cutting keyboarder you may have now become).
Michael Hendrickson October 01, 2012 at 02:10 AM
The only thing I see here is a very buisness savey woman..I say good for her for making a few extra bucks..It's not her fault people are dumb and gullible..No crime was committed here if you ask me
Tom Olivindino October 01, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Its spelled savvy.
James Marlowe October 01, 2012 at 09:51 AM
The government does this to us all the time.
Michael Hendrickson October 01, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Well, Excuse Me Tom!! Mr.Savvy
Ric October 01, 2012 at 10:44 PM
@Michelle Teel. Did you ever hear of a guy called Jesus and a thing about turning the other cheek? I mean, I think you would have, you credit prayers from others having saved your life. Instead of listening to other people praying for you, maybe the big guy wants to hear from you. If you want his compassion then you might want to show it to other people. By the way, wanting someone to die a painful death is not something I think Jesus would want to hear.
Ric October 01, 2012 at 11:21 PM
She deliberately swindled people and got money under a false pretense. That is a crime.
Mike October 02, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Ummm Michael, are you sure your last name isnt Stilley ? Strange as it may seem to you Mike there's actually a law on the books that that savvy woman broke. N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4
Jasmine Leffler October 03, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Guys I'm sure this woman will get karma ....God is not sleeping, what goes around come around!!!!
Richard Harris October 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I think it was brilliant she just needs to be more realistic with the cure. didn't your parents teach you anything don't believe anything people tell you everybody lies.
Cool Runner December 10, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Mike's an Arse
diane January 09, 2013 at 03:58 PM
I was a huge supporter of Team Lori Rocks. I am still disgusted, outraged and hurt by this. If you see this, Lori, or any member of your family, I need to ask. Was it worth it? The pain, anger, humiliation, deception and the cost all worth it? What is the cost of a true friend, Lori? Did you EVER give a damn about any of them? People like you are sick and deranged. I feel for your children the most. They are the ones suffering from all of this you heartless bitch. One day, you will understand what you put those closet to you through. You are less than nothing for what you did and it's not even the money that you took. It's the emotional toll you put on so many people who cared and prayed and worried.

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