Auburn woman arrested in fake cancer scheme

by: Monique Ming Laven Updated:

SEATTLE - Wire fraud and social security fraud are the charges -- but the crime is much worse.

According to a federal indictment, 51 year old Julie Ann Dahlquist of Auburn faked having cancer, and she took that lie right next door and told her neighbor she was dying.  She said she didn't have health insurance, and without his help, she wouldn't survive.

Her neighbor was a 78-year-old man, described by others as "the nicest person on earth," someone who had worked very hard his whole life to save for retirement and for the generations that would follow.  But now much of that savings is drained.

"This gal came to him and said, I'm dying," the victim's son explained.  "He said I can't let this happen if I can fix it.  Unfortunately, he's still back from the old school where a handshake or a conversation meant something. He's guilty of having a kind heart is what he is."  The family says he's so devastated and embarrassed; they don't want their identities known.

Meanwhile, other recent neighbors of Dahlquist say she seemed to be a troubled person, holing away in her home.  They said the only time they really saw her outside was when she headed to Muckleshoot Casino to gamble.  Bob Williams says it was part of her routine. "I'd been up here once in a while and I always saw her," he said. "My wife's seen her numerous times and she spent a lot of time gambling, that I do know."

The feds say that was supported by about 190 checks Dahlquist convinced the victim to write.  She would go back multiple times per month, sometimes getting as much as nine thousand dollars. It started in May 2009 and continued through 2012.  Williams says it wouldn't be tough to believe she was sick by looking at her.  "Real thin," he described, "I always thought it was drugs or something like that, the way she looked."

We found Dahlquist's mother tonight, who insisted her daughter was offered the money and so she accepted it.  But she says the elderly neighbor was trying to get her daughter out of a pickle because of her gambling problem, not because Dahlquist was feigning illness.

Williams doesn't buy it.  "Rot in jail, I'm serious," he said.  "I'm just thinking that was an elderly person, and that really crosses my tail."

Meanwhile, the victim's family says their father just wants this to be over.  They say they are angry, outraged, upset, but they're trying to resist feelings of hate.

But they still can't get beyond the shock that someone would allegedly target someone like their dad, especially in his twilight years.  "I'm shocked someone would take someone as kind-hearted as my dad and do that to him," the victim's son said, his voice breaking, "You know there aren't that many good 'salt of the earth' guys left. Unfortunately, people find them, and abuse the fact that he's a good man."