In a move that surprised friends, family, and coworkers, a woman in Logan faked brain cancer in order to raise over $17,000. Police say she will be charged with fraud.
Fraud Often Preys on the Sympathetic
According to a report from KSL News, in early November 2014, Lesley Jensen claimed that she suffered from advanced stage glioblastoma, the same form of cancer that afflicted Brittany Maynard, the woman who moved to Oregon because of their right to die laws.
As part of her perpetrated fraud, Jensen altered medical records and other documents to support the story. Even relatives of Jensen believed the lie. As the Logan community rallied around Jensen, her former employer, Café Sabor, held a fundraiser where her fellow employees worked for free, and approximately $17,000 was raised on her behalf.
When the news came to light that this was a fraud, Café Sabor owner Justin Hamilton said he was very surprised but that it shouldn’t change people’s behaviors when it comes to others in need.
“[W]e can’t let this deter us from helping and giving back to people,” Hamilton said.
On Wednesday, Dec. 3, family of Jensen reported that she was missing. She was found in her car in a remote location at the south end of Cache Valley and is currently in a psychiatric ward. No details about her medical condition have been released.
Logan police are asking anyone with information on the case or who may have given money to her to contact them at email@example.com.
Fraud Charges Depend on Amount
According to Utah Criminal Code 76-10-1801, what Jensen has done will most likely be considered “communications fraud.” Per this section of the code, a person of guilty of this form of fraud if they “devised any scheme or artifice to defraud another or to obtain from another money, property, or anything of value by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, or material omissions, and who communicates directly or indirectly with any person by any means for the purpose of executing or concealing the scheme or artifice.”
In this case, fraud ranges from a class B misdemeanor when the value of the property or money obtained was less than $500, up to a second degree felony when the property exceeds $5,000. In the case of Jensen, it would be a third degree felony for amounts between $1,500 to $5,000. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
If you or someone you know has been charged with fraud, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to make sure you are getting the best defense.