Australian jailed for fake cancer scam

“Despicable!” Melbourne woman who faked cancer jailed for scamming $40K

Her parents received donations from their friends, the court was told.

Hanna Dickenson had raised NZ$43,976 since she was 19 by convincing friends and family she had a rare cancer called soft tissue sarcoma.

The presiding magistrate David Starvaggi said Dickenson's conduct "tears at the very strings of human nature" and described it as "despicable".

Melbourne Magistrates Court heard that Hanna Dickenson was partying hard and needed money to live a party lifestyle, involving drugs, alcohol, and global holidays.

"People's desire to assist and social trust has been breached".

One of Dickenson's victims had just been discharged from hospital after undergoing his own cancer treatment when he was duped into transferring $10,000 to her for "urgent treatment" in March, 2013, the court heard.

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Dickenson's attorney, Beverley Lindsay, had earlier urged the magistrate to not send her client to jail.

Dickenson's scam was uncovered when one of her victims discovered photos on her Facebook profile, which made him suspicious about claims of her illness.

The case has been likened to that of disgraced beauty and wellness blogger Belle Gibson, who built a successful business by claiming natural treatments helped her survive cancer. "Camara assured them that everything was normal and that they had no need to see a doctor", the report said.

Ms Lindsay argued that her client's offending was less severe than Gibson's.

"She hasn't engaged in this behaviour for three years, she's been a model worker ... she's turned her life around, she's proven that".

Although Dickenson had paid back NZ$15,000 prior to appearing in court this week, she was sentenced to three months in jail, with a 12-month community corrections order. The court also added that Dickenson would lose her job as a property manager for Little Real Estate in Melbourne.