An “unremorseful” mother-of-three who pretended to have terminal cancer so she could claim on a £130,000 life insurance policy has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Gemma Goodwin, 38, told her insurer she had less than two years to live and submitted fake medical documents stating she had stage-four lung cancer, stage-two breast cancer and cervical cancer.
She shaved her head to keep up the illusion that she was ill, while convincing friends, neighbors and colleagues she was dying as they raised money to send her for life-extending treatment in America.
A JustGiving page, set up by her friends, said: “We initially only intended on making the most of what time she had left as treatment in America seemed impossible but, after a lot of consideration and numerous calls from consultants, Gemma has decided to fight for more time with her three beautiful kids.
“The treatment will potentially give her another three years. The NHS will fund the actual treatment, but we need the money to get her there.
“Thank you to everyone who has so far donated and shared our page, your kindness means so much to Gemma.”
Goodwin, of Brent Way in Dartford, Kent, instead ended up using more than £2,000 worth of donations to go on holiday to the US with her children.
In 2015, Goodwin took out a life insurance policy and three years later she made the first attempt to cash it in, Woolwich Crown Court heard on Tuesday.
She wrote to her insurance company to say she had terminal cancer, asking how she could receive money to support her three children and arrange her own funeral.
Two months later, she asked for a friend to be added as a beneficiary, to manage the insurance claim after her death, and submitted paperwork including a letter from a local hospital confirming the diagnosis and prognosis.
But investigations revealed that Goodwin was not a patient at the hospital, and she later admitted mocking-up the letters herself.
It also emerged that in 2019 the serial fraudster was convicted of claiming almost £19,000 in long-term illness benefits – she received a suspended sentence then as well. Three years earlier, she was convicted of illegally obtaining around £40,000 in housing benefits.
Goodwin eventually canceled her fraudulent claim on the life insurance policy, but resubmitted it in January 2019 – this time telling insurers she had just two to three months left to live.
The friend who had been nominated as a beneficiary told police Goodwin had repeatedly lied about being ill, claiming to have not only several different forms of cancer, but lupus – where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs – too.
Goodwin admitted in a police interview that she “enjoyed the attention she received from being ‘ill’”, according to City of London Police.
Detective constable Kim Negus, from the force’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, added: “Goodwin is a deceitful and shameless individual, exploiting a devastating illness for personal financial gain.
“Goodwin clearly has no remorse when it comes to her fraudulent activity.”
The mother-of-three, admitting to two counts of fraud by false representation, was given a two-year suspended prison sentence by Judge David Miller – including a six-month electronic tag.