Hanna Dickenson (R) falsely claimed to have cancer, a court heard
An Australian woman who faked having terminal cancer before scamming money from friends of her family has been jailed for three months.
Hanna Dickenson, 24, accepted A$42,000 (£22,000; $31,000) after telling her parents that she needed medical treatment overseas.
Her parents had received donations from their friends, a court was told. It heard Dickenson spent much of the money on holidays and socialising.
A judge called the scam “despicable”.
Dickenson had pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to seven charges of obtaining property by deception.
In sentencing, magistrate David Starvaggi said Dickenson 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,” he said.
Blogger case comparison
The court was told one person donated A$10,000 to Dickenson after being discharged from hospital following his own cancer treatment. Another person gave money on four separate occasions.
The ruse was uncovered when another donor raised suspicions with police after seeing pictures of Dickenson on Facebook.
Dickenson’s lawyer, Beverley Lindsay, argued that her client should be spared jail because she had “turned her life around”.
She also compared the deception to one involving an Australian celebrity blogger, Belle Gibson, who was fined A$410,000 last year after falsely claiming to have beaten brain cancer.
Ms Lindsay argued that her client’s offending was less severe than Gibson’s.
However Mr Starvaggi said the cases were not directly comparable, and that the court needed to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Ms Lindsay said her client was likely to appeal the sentence.