Feeling bad because you swiped the last bagel at Starbucks? Don’t. There are actually evil people in the world, like Brittany Ozarowski, 21, who pretended to have bone and brain cancer to bilk concerned family and friends out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to support her heroin habit.
Ozarowski, of Medford, New York, got $100,000 from her grandmother, who sold her house to fund her faux cancer treatment. Her father cashed in his retirement fund to offer up another $25,000. She also targeted Walter Warren, a neighbor who had lost his own son to cancer in 2007.
“Her story was so compelling,” said Warren. “I got very emotional when I met her, because it brought back a lot of really tough memories. I wanted to help.”
She garnered sympathy and donations from her website, BrittanyOzarowski.com (tagline: Help Save My Life). A cached version of the site (which is now down) reveals her “story”:
In September of 2011 I was diagnosed with stage two ovarian cancer as well as stomach cancer. 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. The cancer has spread to my spine as well as my brain. So once again I was in need of radiation treatments as well as chemotherapy treatments. This time the medicine was much more expensive and my family had already liquidated all assets since September. I have tried to receive financial help from many different charities, catholic charities, cancer organizations, and organizations of all types for that matter. It is very hard to receive financial help. The treatments are about $33,000 each day and although my doctor has been incredible with helping my family financially I am still short. I have set up donation jars around my town in hopes of getting help from the community. Many places will not help with fundraising to individuals only organizations. I have very few options left and I am still in desperate need of treatments.
How far did Ozarowski go to bilk people out of money? She held several fundraisers for herself — and put out jars at more than 25 local businesses, emblazoned with pictures of her in a wheelchair, to collect donations from strangers.
People became suspicious after Ozarowski refused to let anyone go to the “doctor” with her. Police began following her, and soon realized that she was spending the money on heroin, not medication.
It’s unclear whether her father, with whom she was living at a local motel, had any idea of her true condition. She’s been charged with 24 counts of grand larceny. “This was a despicable scam,” said District Attorney Thomas Spota. “There was no cancer. … The only thing that there was, was heroin and more heroin.”