A 21-year-old New York woman faked having several types of cancer in order to solicit donations in person and over the Internet to support her heroin habit, prosecutors announced this week.
Brittany Ozarowski created a website with a photo of her in a wheelchair, explaining to readers that she was suffering from stomach, bone, brain and ovarian cancer, helping her pull in tens of thousands of dollars from unsuspecting charitable givers. The site has since been taken offline, but a cached copy was preserved by Google.
“In September of 2011 I was diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer as well as stomach cancer,” she wrote. “After multiple treatments of both radiation and chemotherapy I had beaten cancer as of December 2011. I was cancer free until they had found a tumor on my left hip in February 2012. That is when I found out that I have bone cancer.”
“No donation is too big nor too small, anything at all would help greatly,” she added. “If there is anyway you can help to donate anything or help with fundraising it would be greatly appreciated very much by both my family and I.”
The deception was so intricate that she allegedly forged medical documents and told fellow students that her hair did not fall out thanks to a combination of vitamin supplements. She’s even accused of forging doctor’s notes to get out of court dates related to drug charges. Ozarowski also allegedly duped local shopkeepers, who put out donation jars that raised thousands of dollars.
Turns out, “there was no cancer, no chemotherapy, no radiation and no medical bills,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said in court Wednesday, according to CBS New York. “There was just heroin.”
Despite the shocking nature of her alleged crimes, Ozarowski’s deception is a relatively common one in the annals of donation scams. If found guilty, she’ll join a long list of people who exploited the pain and suffering cancer causes for their own financial benefit.
This video is from CBS New York, aired Wednesday, April 10, 2013.
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.