CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) — A Long Island woman faked cancer and sought donations from supermarket shoppers and others to support her heroin addiction, an indictment unsealed Wednesday alleged, and a prosecutor called the plot "a despicable scam."
Brittany Ozarowski, 21, formerly of Selden, was charged in Suffolk County with 24 counts including grand larceny in the third degree.
Prosecutors said Ozarowski left donor jars at Nassau and Suffolk county businesses and hit up supermarket shoppers for money. She also scammed her father and grandmother, who sold her house and gave Ozarowski more than $100,000, District Attorney Thomas Spota said.
"This defendant perpetrated a despicable scam. ... There was no cancer, no chemotherapy or radiation. All there was was heroin and more heroin," he said.
Ozarowski's attorney George Duncan said Wednesday he hadn't yet seen the charges and could not comment.
Spota said small-business owners donated more than $600 in gift certificates and Ozarowski established a PayPal account and a website with a banner that pleaded, "Help Save My Life."
"She told business owners that she was suffering from bone and brain cancer, that the disease was spreading to her thyroid and her stomach," Spota said at a news conference. "She told some people that she just found out the brain cancer was inoperable."
Spota said Ozarowski was eventually caught when a man she had asked for money became suspicious and asked for her doctor's name, which she refused to provide. The man called the district attorney's office.