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Crime News

Alleged Con Artist Scammed Thousands From Unsuspecting Victims After Faking Terminal Illness, Authorities Say

In one instance, Christopher Wade Nelson, allegedly tricked a mechanic into fixing his truck, telling the shop owner he wanted to go for “one last ride,” after inventing an ALS diagnosis.

By Dorian Geiger

A Chandler man is accused of faking Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in a half-baked scheme to defraud unsuspecting victims out of thousands of dollars, according to authorities. 

Christopher Wade Nelson, 49, who allegedly has a history of pretending to have medical illnesses, is accused of fabricating an ALS diagnosis to scam money through online donations, which he used to purchase medical supplies and repair his truck, according to ABC affiliate KXNV-TV. He was arrested by Scottsdale Police Department late last month.

Nelson was slapped with a number of charges in the seven-month long investigation, including aggravated identity theft, fraud, forgery, and witness tampering. 

He was previously accused of swindling more than $30,000 in donations from high school pals over a five-year period in a separate scheme in which he allegedly invented pancreatic cancer treatments — and later faked a suicide, KXNV reported

Christopher Nelson Pd

Nelson was on pretrial release in that pending case at the time of his August arrest. 

After allegedly pretending to be diagnosed with ALS, authorities say Nelson conned sympathetic victims, and spent the cash on motorized wheelchairs and walkers. 

He once allegedly deceived other ALS patients and their families into donating $9,000 and later bought a speech-generating device with that money, according to Phoenix television station KSAZ-TV.

In another instance, Nelson allegedly used Instagram to hoodwink a mechanic to repair his 1951 Chevrolet pickup truck, KXNV-TV also reported. He had allegedly claimed he hoped to go for “one last ride” before he succumbed to “terminal ALS.”

Nelson also allegedly, "fabricated, forged and with intent to defraud, documents allegedly from Mayo Clinic Physicians, submitted through his legal counsel...faking a terminal illness to avoid court appearances," according to KXNV-TV.

Earlier this year, Nelson even once appeared in court in a motorized wheelchair and allegedly pretended to be mute. He was busted after he was spotted dancing, as well as driving and cleaning a car. 

“[Nelson is] healthy, mobile and utilizes verbal communication skills clearly and easily,” Scottsdale Police said.

Police are asking anyone else who may have been defrauded by Nelson to call the department’s Financial Crimes Unit at 480-312-8141.