UK woman fakes terminal cancer for $16,000 dream wedding

Standen and her husband James on their wedding day.
Standen and her husband James on their wedding day. Photo credit: Facebook via. The Mirror.

A UK woman is facing jail time after faking a terminal cancer diagnosis so friends would donate thousands for her "dream wedding". 

Toni Standen, 29, shaved her head and gave interviews to local media outlets ahead of her wedding in 2019 to keep up an elaborate lie that she had terminal cancer. 

Friends launched a GoFundMe page to give Standen and partner James, 52, "a wedding they deserve", before she allegedly died of the rare bone cancer, which she told the Echo last year had spread to her "brain, bones - it's everywhere". 

She also said she wanted to get married before her father Derek, 57, also died of cancer. 

Over £8500 (NZ$16,000) was raised for the couple to help them have their dream wedding and honeymoon in Turkey. 

"She said she wanted her dad to walk her down the aisle before either of them died. Everyone pulled together," one of Standen's friends Cheryl Aston told the Mirror

"People didn't have much but they wanted to give what they could. I wanted to help so badly but I couldn't afford a lot. I asked her about doing a fundraiser. She said, 'Yeah, yeah, every little helps'."

Standen posted on Facebook throughout her 'ordeal'.
Standen posted on Facebook throughout her 'ordeal'. Photo credit: Facebook via. The Mirror.

In an interview at the time, Standen said she was "so overwhelmed" by the generosity of her friends. 

"I couldn't believe it. It shows there is more good in the world than bad."

While Standen's father passed away before the big day, a video message to his daughter was played at the reception, leaving his family in tears. But guests told the Mirror Standen was cheerful, and gave a "faultless speech", even cracking a few jokes.

"She laughed throughout," one witness added. 

After the wedding she and her new husband went to a nearby hotel, with witnesses claiming she rifled through wedding cards, counting the cash inside, before heading off on their honeymoon. 

It was in March this year the extent of Standen's lies were revealed, when she claimed on Facebook she had caught COVID-19. 

Friends called her in a recorded phone conversation and "asked her straight" about her health.

"She started crying and admitted it was all lies. We ended the call and phoned the police straight away," one friend told the Mirror

Standen is now facing fraud charges and was in magistrates court in Chester earlier this week. 

The district judge said she committed a "horrible breach of trust".