First York's measles cases disrupted her cancer treatment, now scammer has stolen her likeness

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
An email scammer used the photo of a woman being treated for cancer at York Hospital in an attempt to bilk financial information from potential victims.

A scammer is using the likeness of a woman receiving treatment in York County for stage 4 uterine cancer in an apparent effort to bilk people with a modified version of the "Nigerian prince" swindle.

Jennifer Russell, 52, of Carroll County, Maryland, first made news last year when she was temporarily prevented from receiving chemotherapy after two people who had been at WellSpan facilities, including York Hospital, were diagnosed with measles.

Now, an email scammer is using the picture of Russell included in that story to pose as a cancer patient in a variation of the "Nigerian prince" email fraud.

"My reaction is the same as my reaction to all scams, which is that the same amount of effort could be put into making an honest living and not victimizing people who are susceptible to these scams," Russell said Tuesday.

A reader in Virginia alerted The York Dispatch that she'd received a suspicious email that used Russell's image.

The email sender adopted the name "Mrs. Elizabeth Holmes" and said she had terminal esophageal cancer and wanted to devote her remaining life to charity.

"Holmes" stated she has a vast $25 million fortune in a foreign bank but needs help accessing the money.

"I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatch it to charity organizations in your country," the email states. "I have set aside 30% of these funds for you for your assistance."

Russell said she would contact the authorities to alert them to the scam.

The York Dispatch tried to contact the scammer using the email address provided for replies. The scammer did not respond.

Jennifer Russell, 52, of Carroll County, Maryland, had to postpone her chemotherapy treatment at York Hospital because of the measles case diagnosed there in late August 2019.

'Nigerian prince' fraud: One of the most well-known online scams is the Nigerian prince email.

Scammers send an email claiming to be an exiled Nigerian prince who needs the recipient's help to access his fortune and return to his rightful place in Nigeria.

Recipients are usually asked to provide bank account information in order for the money to be deposited into their account and then wired to the prince, and in exchange, the email recipient is promised a portion of the money.

But the story is a lie, and those who forward money for "processing fees" or respond with their bank information often find their bank accounts drained. 

More:Maryland woman misses cancer treatment after York Hospital measles case

More:Prosecutors: York Twp. auto dealership scammed dozens of buyers