A 24-year-old woman in Australia who conned family friends out of 30,000 U.S. dollars while pretending to have terminal cancer will spend three months behind bars.
Hanna Dickenson, who spent the money on overseas trips, drugs and alcohol, “engaged in conduct that tears at the very heartstrings of human nature,” a magistrate said, according to ABC News in Australia.
Dickenson had asked her parents for the money by feigning ill, but since they did not have it they asked their friends and neighbors, according to the report. One of the friends who contributed thousands of dollars for her “urgent treatment” in March of 2013 had been fighting cancer himself, according to ABC.
“The court must rightly deter others from engaging in this sort of conduct, taking advantage of people willing to assist and advance moneys to support somebody in what is perceived to be very tragic or dire consequences,” Magistrate David Starvaggi said, according to ABC.
Dickenson’s lawyer had asked the magistrate not to put the Melbourne resident in jail, citing a similar case where a woman was not put behind bars for making money off fake cancer claims.
“Yes she has harmed some people … she didn’t ask them directly though,” lawyer Beverley Lindsay said, according to ABC. “She hasn’t engaged in this behavior for three years, she’s been a model worker … she’s turned her life around, she’s proven that. To send her to prison now sends her backwards.”
However, the magistrate said that both “specific deterrence and general deterrence” were needed.
“It beggars belief that she approached her parents for assistance purporting to be suffering from … grave ill health,” he said, according to ABC.
Dickenson’s lawyer plans to appeal the sentence.