Australian jailed for fake cancer scam


The court heard Hanna Dickenson was partying hard and needed money to fund a lavish lifestyle of drugs, alcohol and worldwide holidays when she cooked up a scam to convince her parents she had cancer.

But her truth was soon uncovered when one of her donors saw her party photos on Facebook, which made him question her claims.

The court was told one person donated A$10,000 to Dickenson after being discharged from hospital following his own cancer treatment.

He contacted police who then identified a number of other victims.

Hanna, a real estate agent, convinced her parents and doctors that she had been undergoing clinical trials for cancer treatment while the case was not so.

"There's been a request for financial assistance in circumstances where it had been purported that Ms Dickenson had very few options left", Mr Starvaggi said.

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

She also compared the deception to one involving an Australian celebrity blogger, Belle Gibson, who was fined A$410,000 previous year after falsely claiming to have beaten brain cancer.

Beverly Lindsay argued well known fake cancer sufferer Belle Gibson had not received jail time, so nor should her client. "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".

"It beggars belief that she approached her parents for assistance purporting to be suffering from ... grave ill health", he said.

It is virtually impossible to fathom how the parents must have felt upon hearing the situation when Hanna pleaded guilty in the Melbourne magistrates' court.

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.