The New York police have arrested a woman who admitted to faking cancer for years to gain sympathy gifts and money from family, friends and donors, the Daily Mail has reported.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that though she had pleaded guilty, she will still be held accountable for fleecing the public through lies and deception and would be charged for defraud and possession of a forged instrument.
The court has ordered her to repay $13,368 to her victims and stay behind the bars until May 15, when the final decision is made.
Jessica Vega, 25, drafted a genuinely convincing story and told people that she was dying of leukemia.
By pretending to have a terminal illness, Vega inexcusably took advantage of the community's hearts and minds, Schneiderman said.
She spread a word that her last wish was to have a dream wedding to her partner, Michael O'Connell, who was also the father of her little daughter. Her poignant story soon spread like a wildfire in her locality - Hudson Valley community - and people began coming forward for all sorts of monetary help to make her dream come true.
Someone donated her wedding ring, others gave wedding dress, expensive gifts and financed her lavish ceremony along with a luxurious Caribbean honeymoon.
Gradually, she gained much esteem in the city and got featured in local dailies after getting media attention. More and more benevolent folks stepped up to help her in every possible way.
But nobody had any clue about the malicious intentions of Vega. To substantiate her claim, she even got a forged medical certificate from a doctor in Westchester confirming the cancer and gave it to the newspaper to boost her story.
Vega married O'Connell May 2, 2010. The couple spent a deluxe honeymoon in Aruba using the sponsored flight tickets and a donated villa. Family and friends gave her thousands of dollars and wedding presents to make her happy and content in her presumably last moments.
Even people who read her distressing story in newspapers came out and helped Vega so that she could lead a blissful life before succumbing to her illness.
Just over four months later, her husband discovered that Vega was faking her cancer and he had been fooled by her to marry by showing bogus medical reports and emotional blackmails.
On returning from the honeymoon, O'Connell realized that her health wasn't deteriorating, which was quite unlikely for a serious leukemia patient. He phoned the doctor and the truth came out.
The duo divorced the same year and moved to different locations. Meanwhile, Vega denied faking cancer story and built up other tales and somehow, the couple reunited and had their second child.
The husband, who was on the verge of prosecuting her for the scam, started supporting her. He said he realized her fault and said she should repay those whom she had deceived. He felt she needed mental health care.
Vega was arrested April 3, 2012 in Virginia, where she was living with her husband and two children.
Her lawyer, Jeremiah Flaherty, said Vega was apologetic for her actions and at the same time she hopes people who showed her kindness aren't disillusioned or less likely to help others in the future, the Daily Mail reported.
He said they were trying to make up somehow to pay the restitution of the victims.