A cancer scammer has pleaded guilty to her crimes, admitting that she was addicted to heroin at the time. Brittney Ozarowski, from Long Island, was arrested in April for scamming a number of individuals and businesses out of money claiming that she had the disease. The community was shocked to hear of her deceit and arrest.
The 22-year-old definitely played the victim of cancer very well. She weighed just 80 pounds and would walk around with a cane. Her face also showed signs that she was battling the disease. The frail sight was a sign that she had been through radiation therapy and chemotherapy to battle the disease, according to those who fell victim to her scam. However, it was likely the addiction to heroin that caused it.
To take the scam one step further, she had a photo of herself taken while sitting in a wheelchair. That photo was then posted on her website, called Help Save My Life, where she would tell her story of battling cancer and ask for donations to help fund treatment. Combined with friends, neighbors and businesses giving donations and putting tins on counters for her, she raised tens of thousands of dollars, which was spent on her habit.
People started asking questions about her scam after a while. She would not be able to keep track of the type of cancer she had. Sometimes it would be bone or brain cancer, while other times she would mention her ovaries. It started to raise red flags, leading to the cancer scammer pleading guilty and admitting to her heroin addiction.
During the scam, Ozarowski was offered a free exam with a neurologist, but she refused to show up to her appointment. She was also offered treatment worth $10,000 by someone who phoned her, but she turned that down. Had she really had the disease, she would have jumped at the chances of both offers.
Her hair did not fall out either, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy. However, that on its own would not lead to questions of the scam since not all patients lose their hair. According to MacMillan Cancer Support, it varies depending on the drugs used during the therapy.
Ozarowski pleaded guilty to 24 charges against her. According to her lawyer, she is “extremely remorseful”, and is looking forward to her drug rehabilitation. Instead of the seven year jail term, which prosecutors wanted, the Long Island judge decided that a drug rehabilitation center was the better option. The treatment will take up to two years to complete. She will has a one year probation period after her treatment.
Part of the punishment also involves the financial repayment of $10,000. Whether this covers the cost of the amount pocketed through the scam is unknown. Many donations were made in cash, rather than check or bank transfer.
Her lawyer said that the punishment was appropriate given the circumstances. The treatment is something that the heroin addict needs to avoid future cancer scams that she may not be caught for or plead guilty to.
By Alexandria Ingham
MacMillan Cancer Support