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Cancer Scam for Heroin Habit Leaves Local Residents Angry

Those that donated to help a young woman who police say ran an elaborate scam to feed her drug habit feel betrayed.

The arrest of a woman soliciting money at a Sayville food shop, to supposedly help pay cancer treatment bills, has left a bad feeling with at least two residents who fell for what police say was an extensive scam to feed a heroin addict.

Brittany Ozarowski was arrested April 1 inside the Sayville Stop and Shop on Montauk Highway and is facing a slew of charges for illegally collecting money on the premise she was riddled with cancer and could not pay for needed treatment, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

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 reportedly raised over $10,000 in 13 months, said the DA.

The 21-year-old was actually using the money for a heroin habit, say police, and her arrest has angered many who donated, including two local women.

Wendy Liu met Ozarowski while at the Stop and Shop and donated $20 after hearing the cancer story.

“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.

Another woman is angry her young children were lied to, especially as one son did a special thing for Ozarowski after they met her at the Stop and Shop.

“My poor kids were so affected by her story when she was begging for money at the Sayville Stop and Shop, we donated cash and bought a bouquet of flowers for her. My 10-year-old son presented the flowers to her and said 'good luck with your treatments'. It makes me sick to find out she was lying to support a heroin addiction,” wrote Christy in a comment post on an announcement that Ozarowski had put on the site in early February.

The note, which can be read by clicking here, was allegedly written by Ozarowski’s father, Thomas McDermott and posted on Patch on February 28. McDermott claims he was scammed by his daughter as well, say police.

The plea claimed Ozarowski was facing $2.6 million in medical bills and daily treatment was a thousand dollars.

In announcing the arrest the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office called the scam run by Ozarowski as “despicable.”

“There was no cancer, no chemotherapy, no radiation, and no medical bills. There was just heroin,” stated District Attorney Thomas Spota in a release earlier this week.

The DA 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.

knee jerk April 11, 2013 at 03:18 PM
I treat every "donation seeker" like a scammer, esp those coming to your front door.
Minx McCloud April 11, 2013 at 04:45 PM
I am sorry to say that I no longer give money to individuals. These scams are increasing in number and have made me bitter about those who have "sob stories." I will continue to donate to St. Jude's Hospital and other bona fide organizations, but if someone is standing in front of a store soliciting funds, I will only offer a prayer for them. Too bad scammers like this kid have made me so cynical.
Lynn Bonanno April 11, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I too gave her 20.00. My daughter was with me and had tears in her eyes after speaking with the Father. While walking to my car I had a bad feeling about it and actually had commented to my daughter, " could you imagine if this is a scam...and that was just two con artists ...how much money they would raise ". Next time , unfortunately, I too will trust my gut instincts.
SoMo April 11, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Find it hard to believe father didn't know it was a scam. Was dad not going with her to treatments? Was she on her father's health insurance plan?
Wendy Pittari April 12, 2013 at 01:37 AM
She shouldn't go to jail. She should be made to spend time with cancer patients young and old alike! Especially during their not so good days. I'm so angry!!
Wendy April 12, 2013 at 01:46 AM
It was her Grandmother, not her mother, in the Sayville Stop and Shop and she was genuine because she was scammed herself...more than any of us who gave whatever we had in our pockets because her story ripped our hearts out. Imagine being her and how her heart is breaking. I hope one day Brittany gets clean and sober and has to deal with what she did. She's an addict...use this to teach your kids what drugs do...I don't think we can give a better example.
James MacLinsten April 12, 2013 at 06:16 AM
Her family apparently did not disowned her yet, she has a very good attorney George Duncan and he doesn't come cheap..he'll get her a nice plea deal what she did is terrible
Bill Mullady April 12, 2013 at 11:15 AM
I think people like her are dispicable. How could someone play on peoples emotions like that. I would just like to also let everyone in Sayville know about another scam artist among us. He is a black gentleman about sixty five years old that walks around Sayville with a walker with wheels. He pan handles at Dunkin Donuts, Walgreens and various other locations around Sayville. When he gets enough money, he goes home to the Lakeland Apartments, changes into nice clothes and then goes accross the street and gambles the money away. He is heathly, does not need a walker or neck brace and is a scam artist. Please dont be taken by him.
SoMo April 12, 2013 at 02:38 PM
After a year in prison she should be forced to spend time with REAL cancer patients. And enough with going easy on them because they are an addict. Time to treat those folks like the trash they are.
Wendy Liu April 12, 2013 at 04:59 PM
I am just not ready to believe the family did not know. First,do you really hand over a that amount of money to a young adult with such a serious illness? No, you probably sit down with the bills, map out a plan and start writing the checks out yourself a little at a time. I won't be surprised to see news reports of her family getting arrested.
SoMo April 12, 2013 at 05:28 PM
Exactly

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