In 2013, Australian woman Hanna Dickinson told her friends and family that she had been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer and that she had only months to live.
As anyone would when faced with the terminal illness of a loved one, Dickinson’s friends and family gave her money for overseas cancer treatment. She even petitioned the Australian government for funds to cover her health costs. Dickinson received more than $100,000 to treat her illness.
But she never had cancer.
Dickinson, now 27, used the $41,770 she received from friends and family to take vacations in Thailand and Hong Kong. She also purchased excessive amounts of alcohol, cocaine, and MDMA, The Age reported.
Dickinson was sent to jail in 2018 for her fraud but was able to appeal her case and avoid more prison time. Now, however, she is being kept in jail for another year, as more evidence of her fraud has come to light.
“Amid this deception, Dickinson also claimed a disability support pension from the federal government, the County Court heard on Tuesday, received $100,230 in benefits between January 2014 and October 2018” the Age reported earlier this week. “She did so on the back of three false documents she said had been written by a doctor, a surgeon and a cancer specialist and then had her mother – who was also duped – write a letter of support and lodge the application for the pension on her behalf.”
As News Chant reported, a judge ordered Dickinson to serve one year of her new, two-and-a-half year sentence earlier than earlier demanded. Dickinson was originally supposed to avoid jail in exchange for a $1000 recognizance order that required her to behave for three years.
The Age reported that even after she was punished for her initial deception, she attempted to “obtain a $30,000 car loan through falsified documents, which breached an existing community correction order.”
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“This was a sophisticated and sustained fraud perpetrated over a number of years,” Judge Dawes said as Dickinson sobbed and wiped her eyes on a video link from prison.
The offending was motivated by greed and committed against the public purse, Judge Dawes said, and Dickinson had ample time to reconsider. But she continued claiming benefits even after three weeks in jail in 2018, until the government department realised it had been swindled.
“I consider your conduct disgraceful,” Judge Dawes said.
Dickinson, who has a past conviction for steering $10,168 of tenants’ rent money into her own account while she worked as a property manager, is to face court again next year on other fraud charges.
Dickinson blamed her lies and deception on a lonely childhood and claims that she was bullied when she was younger, which led to her seeking out alcohol and drugs to make friends.
“You wanted to party hard and maintain an extravagant lifestyle,” Judge Dawes explained at Dickinson’s sentencing.