Woman in Internet cancer fraud pleads guilty
December 16, 2008
A Carson City woman who allegedly raised donations by lying on the Internet about having cancer then faking her own death online, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted theft on Tuesday.
Janel Ochoa, 33, entered the plea before Judge Bill Maddox. Attempted theft by material misrepresentation can either be a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail or a category D felony punishable by one to four years in prison.
According to police records, Ochoa solicited donations on Yahoo message boards and numerous other Web sites saying she was suffering with a third run of cancer, said Carson City Sheriff’s Detective Dave Legros.
On one now-defunct site, shoppingwithjanel.com registered to Ochoa at her Long Street address, Ochoa posed as a friend and left a biography of her alleged struggles with her health. It began wiht the discovery of breast cancer at age 16, then brain cancer discovered after a car wreck caused by a seizure, followed by stomach cancer in 2006 that caused kidney failure for which she’s allegedly a kidney from a living donor resulting in $1,500 a month in hospital bills for which she needed people to donate money.
Ochoa is not now, nor has she ever been diagnosed with cancer or had a kidney transplant, said Legros.
Several online auctions were held in Ochoa’s name, showing totals raised from $10 to $468 to $1,000, according to ripoffreport.com.
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Two days before allegedly faking her death, Ochoa posted a message stating that she was eight weeks pregnant, said Legros.
Under another name, Ochoa posted on a memorial page she’d set up for herself,
“Our dear friend Janel Ochoa has passed on into eternal life,” said Legros.
Ochoa will be sentenced Feb. 3.
– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.