Cancer Scam for Heroin Habit Ran Through Smithtown

At least one local in the area donated to help a young woman who police say ran an elaborate scam to feed her drug habit.

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.




LA, Smithtown April 12, 2013 at 01:08 AM
I too gave this girl and her mother money outside the Smithtown Stop and Shop,,,,,,how sad to prey on the goodness of hardworking people,,,,,maybe the effort should have been to get her help instead of helping her scam!!! It's people and things like this that ruin it for people who are truly in need!!!!! Glad she got caught!!!!
AKramden April 12, 2013 at 01:29 AM
Is it any wonder why she is a dope addict? Her whole family was involved. Great parenting. Be careful what you wish for. Real class act.
lisa April 12, 2013 at 02:01 AM
OMG I gave her money too outside Uncle Guiseppe's in Smithtown.!!!
EPG April 12, 2013 at 02:02 AM
LOL! I remember her post on The Patch. I felt bad, but was stunned at the level of hardships she had faced. I just seemed a bit......much. Pretty low, I might say.
Smithtown J April 12, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Me too! Back in December I think. Despicable
Jessica April 12, 2013 at 03:40 AM
I gave her money twice - once outside the mall when she was organizing a "dog walk fundraiser" (even got a FLIER for it!) and once outside Stop & Shop in Smithtown with her "mother". Wow - she looked so sad... I STILL find it hard to believe it wasn't real. Now the poor people who DO need help are not going to be allowed to ask for help at those places... wow.
GET SMART IN ZOMBIELAND ! April 12, 2013 at 03:59 AM
Rule of Thumb (not rule of DUMB) .. NO $ EVER !!!!! Gift a meal and / or a beverage, NEVER cash on the street ! Ever ! You will be the victim !!
GET SMART IN ZOMBIELAND ! April 12, 2013 at 04:05 AM
The dealers that sell this $h-t should be noosed in town square !! To think that Bayer used to bottle and sell this poison ! Whomever aided this addicted creature in this diabolical scheme is just as bad. I pray for all suffering from cancer and may I cure find you soon !!
Stephanie P. April 12, 2013 at 04:30 AM
She IS sick and DOES need help ------ to get over a debilitating drug addiction and not the disease she claimed. Yes this is horrible ----- but I hear the withdrawal symptoms are hell, and once addicted these people are desperate ...... She can't have felt good about this, getting money from her grandmother too --- all of this is painful, and she probably feels like nothing but a wretch with a need for heroin. She does need help ---- REHAB ------ and we need to get RID of DRUG DEALERS who reduce our kids to this, I was disgusted to read it's now common in Smithtown. Maybe she can get REHABILITATED & the rest, the bulk of the money CAN STILL go to cancer patients also.
NuYawker April 12, 2013 at 04:39 AM
I got hoodwinked too, only for me, it was her teary-eyed Dad chiming in about her lot in life. The whole family should be arrested, if you ask me, what could they have possibly done with all that cash?
Maryellen April 12, 2013 at 03:46 PM
I gave her money at Waldbaums on 347 in Stony Brook by the AMC theatre and her grandma or mother was with her!!! It's so sad how you just can't trust people anymore.
knee jerk April 12, 2013 at 08:50 PM
OMG: I think the food from UG's might have given her the cancer.
knee jerk April 12, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Never could!
Jemine DePrimo April 12, 2013 at 09:04 PM
I also gave her money outside of stop and shop in Smithtown. She had her Grandmother with her, who I spoke to at great length. Her lies pulled at my heartstrings since I lost my dear friend from brain and bone cancer when she was only 19 years old. I believe the grandmother didn't know what was going on either. She was scammed as well.
WOODY11780 April 13, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Steph; This is 2013 !!....Evryone knows the effect of heroin...EVERYONE !!....That needle didn't just jump into her arm...SHE...gave herself the 1st dose that hooked her, & well knowing it would happen.....EVERYONE knows that !!! She did it to herself.....Please don't make it sound like she got hooked & it isn't her fault....Play with fire & you're gonna get BURNED !!
CLEAN UP OUR ISLAND April 13, 2013 at 03:45 AM
Absolutely correct Woody ! Stephanie, you must wake up !! Drug use is, and has been, plaguing this planet ! It is unfortunate, but it is a massive business from the street, to the courts, to the 'treatment' centers, etc. SAY NO TO DRUGS !!
Leni April 15, 2013 at 11:30 PM
Oh my God! I'm such a sucker! She and her chubby, middle-aged "father" were sitting in the vestibule of Uncle Giuseppe's on a cold, rainy day this winter. She was in a wheelchair and he was handing out the flier. Bottom line: I took out 100.00 from the ATM next door and came back to the supermarket to donate to these heartless people. I hope they arrest this disgusting man as well.
NuYawker April 16, 2013 at 02:18 AM
I hear ya, although I was only rooked out of $20. I agree that the father must have also been in on it - if your kid was that sick, wouldn't you go along on the doctor's visits to know what was going on? He's either really stupid or possibly the mastermind, and frankly, who could be *that* stupid?
NuYawker April 16, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Very astute of you, empowered, now that you mention it, I should have picked up on that myself. My family made fun of me when I said I gave her money way back, indicating "she was probably using it for drugs, why did you give her money?" I said - but her Dad was there and he was teary-eyed. How right my family was.


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