Woman Hooked on Heroin Faked Cancer to Scam Donations
The Long Island addict set up a phony website in order to bilk money from unsuspecting donors and even duped her own family.
At first, Brittany Ozarowski didn’t raise any suspicion. She was skin-and-bones at 80 pounds and hobbled around on a cane while she hit up local businesses and neighbors to raise money to help fight what she called “stage two ovarian cancer as well as stomach cancer.”
But turns out her emaciated form had nothing to do with cancer. Instead, she was a junkie.
Ozarowski pleaded guilty on Monday in Suffolk County Court to a 24-count indictment that included charges of grand larceny, forgery, and other crimes. Though facing the maximum of seven years in prison, Judge John Iliou was willing to sentence her to drug treatment for up to two years while adding a third year of probation and community service. Ozarowski’s defense attorney, George Duncan, said that it was “an appropriate sentence given the nature of her offenses, which were morally reprehensible."
Starting in March 2012, Ozarowski began approaching businesses, neighbors, and other concerned citizens in her community to ask for money to help combat what apparently was very aggressive cancer. According to her Facebook page, she was beset with a number of different ailments, including a tumor that was found on her left hip. “That is when I found out I have bone cancer,” she said in her online plea. “The cancer has spread to my spine as well as my brain.” Ozarowski left donation jars at local stores asking to “please help me with my medical bills,” and even managed to convince her own family to pitch in. Her father drained his entire retirement account to help, while her grandmother sold her home and offered $100,000 to pay for treatment.
But in the end, it was nothing more than an elaborate hoax designed to fuel her heroin addiction. “There was no cancer, no chemotherapy, no radiation and no medical bills,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. “There was just heroin.”
Allegedly off of drugs since her arrest in April, Ozarowski has since seen the error of her ways. “She’s terribly remorseful,” her attorney said. “She’s horrified and embarrassed.”
Let's hope so.