The arrest of a 21-year-old woman soliciting money at a Sayville food shop, to supposedly help pay cancer treatment bills, wasn't exactly a contained scam, as at least one person in Smithtown has told Patch they were fooled into giving over money.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, Brittany Ozarowski, formally of Selden but living out of a Medford motel, was arrested April 1 inside the Sayville Stop and Shop on Montauk Highway and was charged with a slew of charges for illegally collecting money on the premise she was riddled with cancer and could not pay for needed treatment.
Ozarowski placed collection jars in many businesses in Suffolk and Nassau and her story prompted more than a few businesses and groups to hold charity benefits, according to police. She also placed announcements online, including on Patch, furthering the alleged scam. She reportedly raised over $10,000 in 13 months, the district attorney said.
The 21-year-old was actually using the money for a heroin habit, say police, and her arrest has angered many who donated.
One reader, Mary, said she was scammed in Smithtown.
"I gave money to Britany at Smithtown Stop n Shop too," she wrote in a email. "Not only that but spent 1/2 hour talking about a giveforward fundraiser she could do (I also do fundraisers) and if she needed help setting up I can help. I gave her my giveforward coach's email ... and my name and number. All the while she was lying. She looked sick, like she was going through chemo, didn't dream she was on heroin," she wrote.
Nearby, Wendy Liu said met Ozarowski while at the Stop & Shop in Medford, and donated $20 after hearing her tale.
“I actually have the flyer she gave out when she and "her mother" stood there asking for money to help her with her treatment costs. She looked so sickly and her mom looked so sad. I handed over $20 quickly and wished her and her mom luck and continued to shop with tears in my eyes. I never considered it to be a scam. What a kick in the teeth!” she told Patch after learning about the arrest.
The note, which can be read by clicking here, was allegedly written by Ozarowski’s father, Thomas McDermott and posted on Sayville Patch on February 28. McDermott claims he was scammed by his daughter as well, police said.
The plea claimed Ozarowski was facing $2.6 million in medical bills and daily treatment was $1,000.
The district attorney’s office called the scam run by Ozarowski “despicable.”
“There was no cancer, no chemotherapy, no radiation, and no medical bills. There was just heroin,” District Attorney Thomas Spota said in a statement.
Spota said the scam ran over a year with Ozarowski soliciting donations from business owners to citizens while standing inside local food markets.
“She convinced store owners in this county and in Nassau to allow her to place donor jars in their place of business, and her arrogance was such that she established a PayPal account and her own website with the banner “Brittany Ozarowski – Help Save My Life”, said Spota in the statement.
The reality, added Spota, is that Ozarowski has reportedly four open narcotics cases and may have forged doctors’ notes to avoid court appearances.
According to a Newsday report, Ozarowski even tricked her grandmother into believing the scam and the grandmother allegedly gave her $100,000 after selling her home.
She is facing 24 counts including grand larceny, scheme to defraud and offering a false instrument for filing, according to Newsday. Ozarowski has been in jail pending $5,000 cash bail, or $10,000 bond.
Below is the full text of the announcement that was posted on Patch. It has since been taken down. If you were taken in by the alleged scam, let us know in the comments below:
hi my daughter is 21 years old and we have been fighting for a year and a half .the med bill at this point is 2.6 million dollars and we have to pay a thousand dollars a day to keep her treatments going.my love for her is what i have left i have sold everything i have ever eared or saved please help us help her thank you Thomas mcdermott 631-972-2226
This is Brittany's story:
Let me begin by introducing myself, my name is Brittany and I am 21 years old. In March of 2011 I was in a terrible car accident where I sustained multiple injuries as follows: I shattered my right femoral head, fractured my right femor, fractured my pelvis, dislocated and fractured my S.I joint in my back, collapsed my right lung, had 20 staples in my head, fractured my L1, L3, and L5 in my spine and shattered my L2. I have nerve damage and severe muscle abnormalaties throughout my body. 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 aswell 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 assests since September. I have tried to recieve finicial help from many different charities, catholic charities, cancer organizations, and organizations of all types for that matter. It is very hard to recieve finicial help. The treatments are about $33,000 each day and although my doctor has been incredible with helping my family finicially 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. No donation is too big nor too small, anything at all would help greatly. If there is anyway you can help to donate anything or help with fundraising it would be greatly appreciated very much by both my family and I. Thank you very much for taking your time to read my story.