Bride Who Faked Cancer For Wedding Donations Handed Prison Sentence

A 29-year-old British woman who faked a cancer diagnosis in order to raise money for her dream wedding has been handed a five-month jail sentence. Toni Standen, from Widnes in Cheshire, pleaded guilty to fraud at Chester Magistrates’ Court after raising more than $11,000 following her claim that she had terminal vaginal cancer – a claim which was completely false. The deception began with two of her close friends, BBC News, and extended to the wider community before it all eventually came crumbling down.

  1. Standen’s deception was a great betrayal of trust. According to Neil Colville of the Crown Prosecution Service, in June 2015, Standen told two close friends, Ashlea Rowson and Jennifer Douglas, that she’d been handed the terminal diagnosis and gave them regular updates on alleged treatment with so much “clarity and detail” that they never thought twice about her claims or considered that she might be lying. Her father then did actually get diagnosed with terminal cancer and Standen told everyone it was his dying wish to see her get married.
  2. Her friends began a GoFundMe to throw Standen her dream wedding. Of course, raising money for a bride with a serious terminal illness began to get press, and it wasn’t long before Standen was giving media interviews both in her local area and nationally. Throughout this experience, she kept up her lies and never wavered. She even claimed in July 2017 that she’d been given two months to live and that the cancer had spread “to my brain, my bones – it’s everywhere,” according to the Liverpool Echo. She also shaved her head to further the ruse.
  3. It wasn’t until after the wedding that Standen’s friends became suspicious. After the extravagant wedding Standen had to 52-year-old husband James, who was allegedly also tricked by his wife’s claims, Standen’s friends started to think something was up. After all, she seemed to have made a miraculous recovery from cancer and was well enough to take a trip to Europe in early 2020. She then claimed to have COVID-19, The Sun reports, but seemed to handle the illness just fine.
  4. Eventually, Standen admitted everything. Her friends made a three-way call to Standen, which they recorded, and confronted her about the situation. She then admitted it was “all lies” though she declined to give a reason for the elaborate deception. “I am embarrassed and heartbroken and right now I am struggling,” she reportedly later texted the friends, according to the Echo. “At the minute I don’t know if Jim and I will be getting a divorce, I don’t blame him if he does and I don’t blame you both if this is the end.”
  5. She’ll now spend five months behind bars for her deception. “You continued to embellish that tissue of lies, saying you had weeks to live. I don’t accept you couldn’t stop,” District Judge Nicholas Sanders said during sentencing. “Not only did you not stop, you made it worse by giving newspaper interviews to engender public sympathy.”
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