An Australian woman who perpetrated a "despicable" scam when she was 19 is headed to jail for three months after being busted by her social media pictures. Per the BBC and News.com.au, Hanna Dickenson, 24, pleaded guilty to obtaining property by deception—meaning she pretended she had terminal brain cancer and got her parents, struggling farmers, to help her beg for donations for medical treatment overseas. Those donations, a total of more than $30,000 that the London Times says came from three different sources, ended up instead funding Dickenson's party lifestyle, including foreign vacations, which one suspicious donor eventually found proof of on Facebook. One donor gave about $8,000 to Dickenson after his own cancer treatment; a couple, Nathan and Rachael Cue, says they sent her four separate donations that totaled more than $15,000.
And it was the Cues' detective work that busted Dickenson's story wide open. "I started looking into it, doing my homework … and yeah, 100% scammed," says Nathan Cue. "That's when I took it to the police." Dickenson's lawyer's three-pronged defense included pinning her parents as the ones who actually asked people for the money, emphasizing that Dickenson has since turned her life around (she's now a real estate agent), and that her transgressions weren't as bad as those of blogger Belle Gibson, another Australian who made fake cancer claims. But Magistrate David Starvaggi called Dickenson's plot "despicable" and said it "smacks of a Walter Mitty kind of lifestyle," adding her behavior "tears at the very heartstrings of human nature." In addition to her jail term, Dickenson has to perform 12 months of community service and pay restitution to the donors she fleeced. (Read more scam stories.)