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Police: Woman Fakes Cancer, Solicits Online Donations

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

October 08, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – To subsidize her social life, an unemployed Willow Grove woman faked cancer and brazenly tried to take advantage of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by planning a benefit in her own honor, police said.

Alicia Tolton, 26, told friends and relatives this summer that she had been diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer 18 months earlier, Upper Moreland Township Police Chief Thomas Nestel said.

She solicited donations to help pay for her “treatment” on her Facebook page and on another page she created called “Wishes for Alicia,” police said.

Tolton also helped plan a beef-and-beer fundraiser that was scheduled for Oct. 17 – the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – at the Willow Grove VFW, according to police.

But relatives became suspicious when they offered to help pay her medical bills and were shown fake invoices and receipts bearing the Fox Chase Cancer Center logo, Nestel said.

The relatives then tipped off police, who invited Tolton to the station under the ruse that the Upper Moreland Police Benevolent Association had a donation for her.

“When she was confronted, she gave it up,” Nestel said. “It just goes to show how bold and absolutely selfish she was that she’d walk into a police station to accept a donation for her fake cancer.”

Police said they have been able to track $1,000 in donations that Tolton accepted, but they are investigating the possibility that she received tens of thousands of dollars more.

Nestel said that surveillance showed Tolton had spent some of the donations for her “treatment” at local bars and Eagles games and that she was a “very social woman.”

“She was basically subsidizing her social life,” Nestel said.

Unemployed and not in school, Tolton lives at home with her parents, who did not know about her scam, Nestel said.

Tolton’s father is a volunteer firefighter and spends most of his time taking care of his very sick wife, Nestel said, adding that Tolton’s dad was “just as surprised” as anyone when he found out his daughter’s cancer was a lie.

“He was flabbergasted and thoroughly embarrassed because he went to the firehouse to sell tickets to the beef-and-beer,” Nestel said.

Tolton was arraigned yesterday on charges of theft, forgery and tampering with records and jailed in lieu of $25,000 bail. She was wearing a red sweatshirt bearing the Phillies-inspired “ill” logo on the front when she was taken into custody.

Tolton is also being held on a detainer for violating her existing probation on a narcotics offense, police said.

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