Brittany Ozarowski pleaded guilty to a running a cancer scam in Miller Place, New York. The 21-year-old admitted she faked cancer to fund her heroin addiction. Judge John Iliou accepted the guilty plea and sentenced the woman to complete a drug treatment program and probation. She will also be ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to her victims.
In 2011, Ozarowski claimed she was diagnosed with ovarian and stomach cancer. However, she eventually told her family and friends that she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment and was cancer free. In 2012, she said the cancer returned.
Authorities said Ozarowski devised an elaborate and aggressive fund-raising campaign. In addition to lying to her family and friends, she created a website and a Facebook page to beg for donations. Ozarowski complained that the cancer had spread to her bones, brain, and spine. She said the treatment cost more than $30,000 per day.
Ozarowski also discussed her phony diagnosis with members of her community, who allowed her to place donation jars throughout the town. The community also held at least one event to help raise funds.
As reported by ABC News, the woman’s cancer scam was exposed when donors began questioning her overall health. Although she said she was receiving chemotherapy, Ozarowski never lost her mane of long dark hair. She also refused offers of free medical care.
When authorities became involved, they discovered the woman was a heroin addict — not a cancer patient. She was charged with fraud, larceny, and forgery. Although she was facing seven years in prison, Judge Iliou thought a drug treatment program was more appropriate.
Attorney George Duncan said his client’s sentence was “appropriate… given the nature of her offensive.” While he admits the cancer scam was “morally reprehensible,” he said Ozarowski has stopped using heroin and is “horrified and embarrassed” about what she did.