A Virginia woman was arrested on misdemeanor charges after police say she faked having cancer as part of a scam to raise money.
Officials said they received an anonymous tip in April that Martha A. Nicholas, of 9400 block Stone Spring Drive in Mechanicsville, was faking her battle with cancer to receive financial support.
Neighbors told CBS 6 News’ Angela Pellerano Thursday they could not believe Nicholas was not sick. “She was always going for some kind of medical treatment, from what I heard,” said one woman.
According to Nicholas’ LinkedIn page, she was a writer, public speaker and volunteer advocate at the American Cancer Society. Additionally, Nicholas was heavily involved in Relay for Life, an event designed to raise money for cancer research and to celebrate cancer survivors, in 2010.
In fact, police said she told the American Cancer Society that she was a three time cancer survivor on the brink of death. The American Cancer Society’s Patti Jackson, who met Nicholas at last year’s Relay for Life event, said the allegations are shocking and disappointing.
Jackson said she hopes the incident does not deter others from helping the group raise money to fight cancer. Investigators said they found no evidence Nicholas had received any cancer treatment — and tried to speak with her several times unsuccessfully.
Additionally, they found evidence that people had given money to Nicholas because she claimed to have cancer. As a result, Hanover Commonwealth’s Attorney Trip Chalkley charged Nicholas with two counts of misdemeanor obtaining money by false pretenses.
Deputies arrested Nicholas Wednesday. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 16.
The Daily Mail also reports that not only did the woman hold numerous fundraising events and used a wheelchair after claiming that chemo therapy made her weak in order to gain sympathy from others … she also told her two young children that she was dying. (HOW AWFUL!)
Martha Nicholas, 42, of Hanover, Virginia, posed as a four-time cancer victim and played on the sympathy of friends and family, authorities said. Numerous fundraising events were allegedly held in her honour and tens of thousands of dollars were raised to help pay her medical expenses.
Nicholas, who is married, allegedly used a wheelchair after claiming she was too weak to walk from chemotherapy sessions. Her two children, aged 10 and 13, are believed to have grown up having been told by Nicholas that she was dying of cancer.
Nicholas became an inspiration to other sufferers as she attended events where she spoke about her battle with the killer disease. In one fundraising event earlier this year she spoke to hundreds of people and tearfully told them: “My diagnosis is terminal … and each night I wonder if it will be my last.”
Fundraisers allegedly paid for her to travel to Arizona and Texas for chemotherapy treatment. Others offered to lend her their beach homes so she could recover from treatment. But investigators said her diagnosis was a complete sham.
Nicholas tells the crowd that she was diagnosed with stage four Ovarian cancer when she was 22. She is understood to have claimed the cancer returned and she is a four-time survivor of the disease.
Detectives with the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office tried to speak with Nicholas when they launched their investigation, but she refused to talk. They followed up on a list of hospitals, doctors, procedures and treatments that Nicholas claimed she had received.
But they found no evidence that confirmed she had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Our investigation revealed no evidence of any cancer treatment at any medical facility that had been publicly identified by Martha Nicholas during her many public appearances and testimonials,” Captain Michael J. Trice of the Sheriff’s Office said. “Investigators also found evidence of individuals that had given money to Martha Nicholas due to her proclaimed medical condition.”
Friends who helped Nicholas reacted with shock and anger following her arrest for obtaining money under false pretenses.
Steve Gormley, writing on local TV station WTVR’s website, said: “What about the ‘Cancer Sucks’ t-shirt fundraiser for her? What about her trip to Texas for treatment followed by her trip to Arizona for treatment? Was she just kicking up her heals during her time away?”
In honor of actual cancer victims, survivors and their families … there should be a specially reserved section in hell for people like this Martha Nicholas woman!