Police: Woman pretended to have cancer for money

Martha A. Nicholas
Martha A. Nicholas

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Martha Nicholas is charged with obtaining money by false pretenses. Hanover authorities say she lied about having cancer and took money from sympathetic donors, who gave -- believing their donations, would pay her medical expenses, and hardships related to her illness.

Martha Nicholas fooled many people, including the American Cancer Society. Her cancer scam has people feeling cheated, betrayed and even angry. Though we don't know her version of what happened, here's what Hanover investigators say she did.

An anonymous complaint, in April, that she was faking cancer sparked a scam investigation and on December 7th, Hanover sheriff's deputies arrested Martha Nicholas. She's charged with 2 counts of misdemeanor obtaining money by false pretenses.

Nicholas was very public with her personal testimonies and told inspiring made up stories, of surviving four bouts with cancer. Here, she's behind a banner celebrating life wearing a T-shirt that reads, 'Cancer Sucks'. Hanover investigators say they found no evidence of any cancer treatment anywhere.

"This is very disturbing, obviously, that anyone would use this diagnosis in a way to mislead people, because it's a very difficult disease and a lot of people have suffered with it. And we want to stay focused on people who are surviving cancer and continue to support them in the way that they need that," said Patti Jackson with the American Cancer Society (A.C.S.).

Martha Nicholas volunteered for the American Cancer Society. She was an active fundraiser and participant in Relay for Life events. She raised $12,000. A.C.S. says those checks raised by Martha's team were received.

"That went towards our programs and services. We did not give her any money but any money raised independently of that we have no knowledge of," Jackson said. "We want to assure the people that did make donations to the A.C.S. that those dollars have gone for the intent they were given.

We don't know how much money Nicholas may have pocketed. But, investigators say they have evidence of people who gave her money because of her proclaimed medical condition. They also believe there are more 'unidentified' victims and want anyone with information to call 365-6140.

We went to Nicholas' Mechanicsville home to get her version of what happened and charges she was running a scam. Two cars were parked in the drive way but no one answered the door.

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