"Strangers step in to offer wedding for terminally ill bride," was the headline in Jessica Vega's local New York paper back in April. Fast forward five months, and a headline in the same paper says it all: "Bride's 'Till death do us part' story was false, husband says."
According to Vega's husband, Michael O'Connell, she lied to him and everyone else about having terminal leukemia. He says Vega's health never deteriorated, and that the doctor's letter she used to confirm her diagnosis is a fake.
Vega claims that even though she said in April she only had a year to live, she says she's now getting better treatment somewhere else, is feeling better since she's been away from O'Connell (who she says is abusive), and never lied.
What does the doctor say? The office she claims to have been going to denies she has ever been a patient.
Cancer hoaxes are not unheard of. As MSNBC reports, if Vega's story is false, she has some company:
- Dina Perouty-Leone, a Maryland mother of two teenagers, allegedly lied about having terminal stomach cancer in order to bilk friends and acquaintances out of money. She pleaded guilty to a charge of felony theft in June, and her sentencing is set for October. She faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.
- Last year Keele Maynor, a Tennessee woman in her late 30s, was charged with theft and forgery after maintaining a ruse for five years about having breast cancer. She collected donations of sick leave and money from co-workers until she resigned from her job with the city of Chattanooga in December 2008. “I started fabricating this story about cancer in 2003 and it has snowballed and finally came to a head,” she wrote in her resignation e-mail message. “I am relieved for two reasons. I don’t have to keep up the charade anymore and I am finally getting some help to figure out why I did this in the first place.”
- Ashley Anne Kirilow, a 23-year-old from Ontario, Canada, admitted last month that she shaved her head and eyebrows and plucked out her eyelashes to make herself look like a chemotherapy patient. Kirilow capitalized on her “condition” to run a charity that brought in thousands of dollars in donations. “What I did was wrong,” Kirilow told the Toronto Star. “I was trying to be noticed.” Her parents described her as manipulative and desperate for fame and attention from others.
In 2009, Australian pastor, singer, and songwriter Michael Guglielmucci convinced his entire church that he was dying of cancer, and even wrote a song about the ordeal. When caught, he fabricated the lie to cover up a pornography addiction. (Video below.)