When someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, you'd do – and give – anything to help that person overcome a disease that seems to be more lethal than not.
Reflecting on this, you can probably sympathise with Hanna Dickenson's parents, who rallied around their cancer-stricken daughter, raising thousands of dollars from friends, family and neighbours to cover the cost of life-saving medical treatment overseas.
In 2012, Hanna told her farmer parents, from Victoria's Swan Hill, that she had been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, and that she was not responding to treatment she'd received from both Peter MacCallum and Epworth hospitals. The only thing that would save her from being so gravely ill was expensive overseas treatment in Germany.
But the thing is, as News.com.au reports, Hanna didn't have cancer at all. The then-19-year-old had tricked her financially struggling parents into rounding up thousands of dollars from their own savings, as well as the bank accounts of their friends and neighbours, to fund her party lifestyle.
That sum? Almost $42,000.
Eventually, Hanna was caught out, with her Facebook page painting a very different story to that of someone who was terminally ill. Hanna posted pictures of her fun holiday trips and overseas jaunts – pictures that caught the attention of her parents' neighbours, who had donated $20,000 to the supposedly sick teen.
Now 24, Hanna has faced Melbourne Magistrates' Court, pleading guilty to seven charges of obtaining property by deception.
"Ms Dickenson engaged in conduct that tears at the very heart strings of human nature," Magistrate David Starvaggi said upon sentencing Hanna, adding that her crime was "despicable".
"People's conscious desire to assist has been touched ... that's the social trust."
"I couldn't think of a worse case to manifest itself needing both specific and general deterrence."
Reporting Dickenson's deceit, we can't help but think back to disgraced wellness blogger Belle Gibson.
In 2015, Belle controversially revealed to The Australian Women's Weekly that despite claiming she was a brain cancer survivor, and making money of Australians who either sympathised or empathised with her harrowing (make-believe) story, she, in fact, had been lying to the entire country.
It is said that Belle scammed more than $400,000, telling donors that she not only had brain cancer (which she didn't) but that she would also donate proceeds from the sale of her Whole Pantry app to charity (which she didn't).
Hanna has been sentenced to three months' jail time, 1 one year-long Community Corrections Order, and has been ordered to pay those she scammed back. Her lawyer says she will appeal the decision.
More as this story develops.
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Australian Women's WeeklyToday 11:49am