Twenty-one-year-old Brittany Ozarowski had all the makings of a sick, battling-chemo cancer patient. She was frail, limp, pale and severely underweight. She walked around her New York city home and town with a cane, openly talking about how sick she felt from "cancer and chemotherapy."
Who wouldn't feel bad for a young woman in this condition, right? What a horrible, tragic situation. The hearts of neighbors and those in the community went out to her. They wanted to somehow help so badly that they began a community-wide effort to raise money for this poor unfortunate soul. Donation jars were placed on neighborhood counter tops, fundraisers were held and thousands of dollars raised in her name to "help save her life." Brittany raked in more money with each day that passed.
Although Brittany's outward appearance maintained its sickly-looking state, there were questionable instances that made those around her start to wonder. If she was in chemo, why hadn't she lost any hair? Why would she turn down a free doctor exam? And perhaps most incriminating, why on earth would she refuse a charitable donation paid directly to a hospital for her "treatments"?
When revealed by prosecutors, the answer was a sickly simple one — no pun intended. Brittany did not have cancer at all. She had never been through chemotherapy, never diagnosed with any malignant diseases, tumors or anything of the sort. She was a healthy 21-year-old girl with a terrible heroin addiction and not enough money to fund it.
"There was no cancer, no chemotherapy or radiation," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota revealed in a Long Island press conference. "All there was was heroin and more heroin."
Brittany had scammed her community out of thousands of dollars. The total amount cannot be confirmed due to many donations given in off-the-record cash form. In addition to money, caring neighbors had also donated thousand of dollars worth of food to her during her "sick months", new clothes to "raise her spirits" and free doctor examinations. All a colossal waste of resources that could have been given to those who actually needed them.
Needless to say, the news of her dishonesty nearly sucked the wind out of those around her. They felt duped, scammed and betrayed both financially and emotionally. One community resident, Elizabeth Petricola, was particularly disturbed. "It was about the principle and the caring, the faith that we have in people. Everyone came together as a community to help. It broke my heart." And rightfully so.
Ozarowski has a record of previous drug arrests dating back to 2010. She is currently held on $75,000 bail after pleading not guilty to acts of larceny, forgery and other charges. A court date is not yet set, but if found guilty, Ozarowski could face up to seven years in prison. The Associated Press requested an interview from her jail cell, but she declined.