Go Fund Me and other online crowdfunding services have provided those in need of help with an amazing way to raise money and awareness like never before. Unfortunately, these sites have also made it easier than ever to defraud people who want to help. In one notable recent case, a woman has even been charged with defrauding donors of over $60,000.
Vedoutie Hoobraj’s Charity Fraud
Vedoutie Hoobraj, who also goes by Shivonie Deokaran, is accused of creating an elaborate story about having leukemia and using the generosity of her local community, a Go Fund Me as well as a high school charity drive to collect over $60,000 that was supposedly to help fund her medical care. The woman even went so far as to not only fabricate the names of doctors she claimed to be seeing, but also to create false lab reports showing her hemoglobin, platelet counts, and red blood cell counts were outside normal ranges. On her Go Fund Me page, Hoobraj claimed she only had 18 months to live.
Hoobraj started to be investigated after locals in her small New York community started to wonder if she actually had cancer like she claimed. She immediately moved her family to Florida, which her boyfriend claimed was because the weather was too cold for her condition. While the initial investigation was being performed by local police, the fact that Hoobraj continued to raise money through her Go Fund Me page meant that continued investigation was then the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Getting a Warrant for Medical Files
Ultimately, it should be reasonably easy for investigators to discover whether or not Hoobraj actually visited the doctors she claimed to have seen and whether or not the doctors did diagnose the woman with cancer. While the warrant process for medical files is a little more stringent than in most cases, it is still simple enough when the medical files are the cornerstone of a case.
What Charges will Hoobraj Face?
Wire fraud convictions can result in up to 20 years in prison, but that Hoobraj did manage to avoid facing the additional charge of offering and preparing false evidence as she only gave the allegedly fabricated medical records to donors and not to investigators.
Given the evidence against her, Hoobraj’s best option in this case will probably be a plea bargain. But this is a perfect example of how a particularly ugly crime always requires the best possible attorney available as it would be very difficult to find a jury sympathetic to someone accused of faking cancer to scam people out of donations, even if the facts were on her side.
If you have been accused of any form of fraud, including charity fraud, please call a fraud defense lawyer like Peter M. Liss as soon as possible. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Steve Davis