Jennifer Halford has been charged with fraud after police say she raised money to help her fight the cancer she never had.
The 34-year-old allegedly received donations – mostly in the form of gift certificates, food and some cash – for her cancer treatments and other expenses.
Global News spoke with several mothers who said they met Halford at Jamie’s Preschool, a place for children facing cancer, blood disorders, organ transplants and other critical illnesses.
One of the mothers, who asked to be called Geri, told Global News she jumped into action the second she heard of Halford’s alleged breast cancer diagnosis.
“You want to help out a fellow friend, for sure, that’s going through a hard time. Because we had a special bond already, it pulls on the heart strings a little bit more,” Geri said.
Another mother, Rachel, said she felt an instant bond with Halford after they met during the time both of their girls were battling life-threatening diseases.
That’s what prompted her to try to help Halford.
“I spent a lot of time and energy just doing as much as I could to help her and her family.”
Rachel said that friends started to get concerned when they began to hear that Halford was allegedly posing as a Fort McMurray wildfire evacuee.
“I think she was part of a Fort McMurray evacuation group where she was at some centre – posing as a Fort Mac evacuee. I guess people were like, ‘why is she there? She doesn’t live in Fort Mac.'”
Global News interviewed Halford seven years ago about her own daughter’s illness. The five-year-old died in January 2011 after a four-year battle with Mitochondrial Disease.
Mothers Global News spoke with said they helped Halford through the death of her child, and later, through what she said was a cancer diagnosis. They said they’re outraged that Halford may have faked the disease.
Geri said she gave Halford over $700 in food and gift certificates, but that’s not the part that bothers her. She said she doesn’t want her money back, she wants to see her friend get the care she needs.
“I just really hope that wherever this is coming from, that she can face it and that she can get the help that she obviously needs.”
Halford is facing seven counts of fraud under $5,000. Police said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be laid.
Halford is currently out on bail.