Worth County woman accused of faking cancer, scamming charities to change plea

Published 3:22 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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By Lisa Grouette, Mason City Globe Gazette


A Northwood woman, who deputies say impersonated doctors and defrauded area charities by pretending to have cancer, will enter a new plea next month, according to court documents.

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Jennifer Hope Mikesell, 43, was arrested in December 2019 on six aggravated misdemeanor charges of forgery, a charge of felony second-degree theft and a charge of felony ongoing criminal conduct. She pleaded not guilty in February.

Jennifer Mikesell

Mikesell is accused of pretending to have cancer and reaching out to area charities and individuals for donations of money, goods and services, even going so far as to create fake email addresses and forge doctors’ notes from three providers at Mayo Clinic (one of which is not actually employed there), where she claimed to be receiving care, the court filings allege.

Evidence collected by law enforcement uncovered emails which were sent to Mikesell’s husband and employer from an email account which was opened by Mikesell and used to represent herself as Mayo employee “Christina Maulsby.” 

Mikesell obtained contributions from Meal Train and GoFundMe, and received a renovated bedroom from My Happy Haven, a Mason City-based organization which charitably provides comfortable recuperation spaces in the homes of those diagnosed with life-altering illnesses.

Search warrants executed on Mayo Clinic’s records determined that providers there had never diagnosed Mikesell with cancer, and that no treatments or surgeries took place.

In a statement obtained by sheriff’s deputies at the time of her arrest, Mikesell said she committed the fraud “because of stuff from the past,” although she declined to explain herself further during the interview.

In 2015, Mikesell, whose last name was then Nilges, was charged in Mitchell County with ongoing criminal conduct and second-degree theft for her role in stealing $1,400 from a Girl Scout troop bank account. She later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, spending 10 days in jail and paying $625 in fines.

Another court case in 2003 in Florida links Mikesell to identity theft and forgery charges, for which she pleaded no contest and received three years of probation and was ordered to pay over $2,000 in restitution and fines.

Mikesell is scheduled to enter a new plea at the Worth County Courthouse on Nov. 9.