When Hanna Dickenson from Melbourne, Australia told her family and friends she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer aged just 19, they were devastated.
Claiming she only had weeks to live, Hanna appealed to anyone she could to help her fund overseas medical treatment in the likes of New Zealand and Thailand. She told them it might help to prolong – or even save – her life.
Close friends of Hanna’s family responded positively to the appeal, donating thousands to her cause. In total, the BBC reports that Hanna racked AU$42,000 – just short of £23,000 – to put towards her ‘treatment’.
But in reality, Hanna wasn’t ill at all. Instead, she had plotted to scam her loved ones out of money in order to fund her party lifestyle. So when she received the money, that’s exactly what she did.
To her detriment, however, Hanna wasn’t subtle about her escapades on social media, which was how her deception was ultimately revealed.
One of the men who had donated money to fund Hanna’s treatment spotted images of her drinking, partying, and enjoying extravagant holidays online. He became instantly suspicious about whether or not she was actually gravely ill.
“I started looking into it, doing my homework,” Hanna’s neighbour Nathan Cue, who had donated AU$20,000, said. “I spent a fair bit of time and sussing things out, and yeah, 100 per cent scammed. So that’s when I took it to the police,” he told Australian TV programme A Current Affair.
Hanna, now 24, recently appeared in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court charged with seven counts of obtaining property by deception.
She was sentenced to three months in prison and 150 hours of community service.
She has also been sentenced to have treatment for mental health issues as well as substance abuse.
Magistrate David Starvaggi, judging the case, described Hanna’s actions as “despicable”. He said the young woman had “engaged in conduct that tears at the very heartstrings of human nature.
“People’s desire to assist and social trust has been breached. These are people who worked hard and dug into their own pockets.” – Cosmo
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