LOGAN, Utah -- Cashing in on Cancer. Police say a Utah woman had an entire community fooled, bilking them out of thosuands of dollars. The case of charity has now turned into a fraud.
Lesley Jensen is the prime suspect in a fraud investigation centered in the small town of Nibley. Logan Police said the Cache County community had no idea she was faking her own terminal illness.
"Leslie has suggested she has brain cancer," said Chief Gary Jensen of the Logan Police Department.
Grade 4 Glioblastoma is an aggresive form of brain cancer. Police said Jensen's ruse duped donors out of thousands, and she allegedly went to great lengths to fake her cancer.
"Leslie went through a series of efforts to legitimize her claims of cancer, which included forged documents," Jensen said.
The 26 year-old was a waitress at Cafe Sabor in Logan. Her coworkers are still in disbelief. They helped raise funds for the Cache Valley for Hope Foundation in Lesley's name. Some of the servers even gave away their tips.
"She was a good employee and friend to us here at Cafe Sabor. It was, we were saddened by the news and shocked as sure everyone else was," said Skler Parkhurst, a Manager at Cafe Sabor.
Donations were also made to an organization called Cache County Cares for Cancer. FOX 13 News discovered a "Go Fund Me" page for Jensen, showing more than $3,000 raised in the past 30 days. The page appears to have been taken down, see the bottom of this story for a screen capture.
Investigators said her web of lies unraveled quickly, within months, and although a lot of people were fooled, Chief Jensen said: "We would hope that people not lose faith. These are people, these are events that end fairly quickly in a fraud scheme. Lies get bigger and bigger, and before too long things start to stack against a person."
"It was shocking for a lot of us here but we did it because we care about Lesley,and we wanted to help her out, it came from a place of love that we wanted to do it for her, even though it turned out that she, or maybe it didn't work out as planned, we just have to continue to help people," Parkhurst said.
Lesley is facing a laundry list of charges, including fraud, but she hasn't been booked into jail yet. She's in the hospital undergoing an evaluation. Her parents reported her missing in early December. Lesley was later found in a remote mountainous area in Cache Valley.
Jensen said anyone who suspects they are the victim of such fraud should send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org