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Bedford County woman fakes cancer, scams fiance out of $40,000

BEDFORD -- A Bedford County woman is facing theft charges, after scamming her fiance out of $40,000.

State police said Michelle Zipp deceived the victim into thinking she had a terminal cancer diagnosis, needing money for treatment.

The district attorney said it's a tragic case of somebody exploiting a romantic relationship for their financial gain.

Zipp's bail was set at $50,000, and she has since been released after someone posted that bail for her.

This is the time of year for love, but for one Bedford County man, his love wasn't exactly the real thing.

That's because 31-year-old Michelle Zipp scammed him out of about $40,000 over the course of four months.

"This is sometimes what happens when good people who want to help others fall victim to bad people who want to steal from others,” said Bill Higgins, Bedford County district attorney

Higgins said Zipp is charged with theft by deception.

According to police, she told the victim that she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and that she didn't have the money for needed surgeries.

"She basically exploited a romantic relationship with him to the point that they were engaged, or she said they were engaged to be married," Higgins said.

Authorities said the victim secured loans and made payments to Zipp to help pay for what she claimed were necessary surgeries, mostly in cash, but more than $6,000 was transferred via Money Transfer and MoneyGram at the Walmart in Everett.

"Building on this lie that she was dying of cancer, (she) said she was being treated at a hospital that she was never a patient of. It was really just a total lie."

It was a lie that included deceiving her fiancé into believing that he was communicating with her nurses via text from her cellphone.

Among the evidence the district attorney has, on Jan. 4, the alleged nurses texted the victim and told him that Zipp was in a medically induced coma. However, that same day, a state trooper made a traffic stop involving Zipp, proving she was not in a coma.

"I guess he's a very good-natured person,” Higgins said. “Wanted to help somebody. Thought he was in love. Thought she was in love with him, and invested an awful lot of money into a fictitious story."

Higgins said unfortunately, he sees a lot of scams in different forms.

"Be careful who you're trusting. Be careful who you're giving money to. Real friends, or people who really care about you aren't using their relationship for their financial gains."

The DA said Zipp will be prosecuted and held accountable, and hopes to get the victim his money back.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.

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