Woman who raised $17K faked brain cancer, police say

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LOGAN — A Logan woman who said she had brain cancer held a fundraiser in early November that raised over $17,000. Now police say they have proof the cancer claim is fake.

The Logan Police Department received a tip about a potential fraud scheme Nov. 25. Lesley Jensen claimed to suffer from advanced stage glioblastoma, the same aggressive form of brain cancer right-to-die activist Brittany Maynard had.

The Logan community rallied around Jensen and held a fundraiser for her at her former employer's place, Cafe Sabor. KSL covered the story Nov. 6, and Jensen told KSL she was choosing to live for her 6-year-old daughter.

"She's my little angel," Jensen said in early November. "I don't have a choice in this. I just have to get up every day and keep going."

Dozens of employees worked for free during the fundraiser and about $17,000 was raised for Jensen that night.

(My daughter) is my little angel. I don't have a choice in this. I just have to get up every day and keep going.

–Lesley Jensen to KSL in early November

Cafe Sabor owner Justin Hamilton told KSL Friday that he's just as surprised as everyone else that the cancer was faked.

"We all loved and cared about her, and that's why we rallied together so quickly to support her cause … we're all, equal to everybody, surprised and shocked and saddened by the news that came out," Hamilton said. "More important to that, we can't let this deter us from helping and giving back to people."

Jensen had put together several documents claiming that she had been diagnosed in order to support her lies, police said, and at one point had even fooled her relatives.

“Medical records that she had altered to reflect that the documentation was about her,” said Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen. “They're definitely convincing until you start to have questions about it and then you can start to see some problems with (the documents). At face value, they look convincing."

Lesley Jensen's family reported her missing Wednesday afternoon, saying they were concerned for her safety. Police found her in her car in a remote, mountainous area at the south end of Cache Valley. She was taken by ambulance to an area hospital out of "concerns for her medical welfare," according to police.

She remained hospitalized Friday. No details about her medical condition were released.

Jerry Jensen, at a press conference Friday, urged those who were touched by Lesley Jensen's story and offered to help her not to give up hope.

"This kind of event is alarming, of course, to the community, because the good nature of people in the community is they want to reach out," the police chief said. "This is an event that is unfortunate … but we would hope people will not lose faith."

Swink applauded those who assist residents with cancer and other serious health concerns.

"That would be the worst tragedy in all of this, that these legitimate organizations and people who want to help others, wouldn't put their money forward," Swink said. "We're grateful for the generous people — family, friends, foundations and people who just hear about sad situations and come forward."

Chief Jensen said "a lot of people" fell victim to the scam, and police expect more people to come forward in coming days. Anyone with information about the case or anyone who gave money to the woman can contact Logan police by email at fraud@loganutah.org.

Swink said more charges could be filed against Lesley Jensen if additional victims come forward.

KSL learned Lesley Jensen has had problems in the past with paying her taxes but there is no clear motive as to why she would fake having a brain tumor.

Contributing: Tracie Snowder

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