WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - A woman is is facing prison time after allegedly defrauding Westchester County donors of more than $50,000 by misrepresenting the fact that she had terminal cancer.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced on Friday that 38-year-old Vedoutie Hoobraj - also known as Shivonie Deokaran - has been arrested in Florida after allegedly engaging in a scheme to solicit donations for two years in Westchester by representing that she had terminal cancer and required money for living and medical expenses.
Hoobraj obtained donations and checks through two GoFundMe fundraising campaigns that were set up in 2014 and 2015, according to Kim. Those pages stated she had 18 months to live and her family was suffering financial burden from chemotherapy treatments and other medical and living expenses. Hoobraj publicized her alleged struggles online through email and social media.
In total, Kim said that Hoobraj received more than $50,000 from more than 300 people in Ardsley and elsewhere. Between October 2014 and December 2015, Hoobraj transferred $32,600 from an Ohio bank account operated by the GoFundMe payment processor vendor to Hoobraj’s personal bank account. Additionally, in November 2015, Hoobraj deposited two donation checks totaling nearly $20,000 from the Student Activity Fund of Ardsley High School.
Kim said that Hoobraj told police in Ardsley that she had been diagnosed by a doctor at Sloan Kettering Medical Center who died in an earthquake in Nepal and was currently being treated by a new physician.
“Vedoutie Hoobraj allegedly concocted an elaborate story about having cancer when she did not, using GoFundMe pages and accepting money raised by a local high school, all supposedly to fund her medical care," he said. "Hoobraj even falsified medical records for donors to conceal the fraud.
Hoobraj was arrested in Orlando and charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. She is due back in court later this year.
Vedoutie Hoobraj went to great lengths to hide behind her self-fabricated cancer diagnosis. Not only did she allegedly allow the people of her community to hold fundraisers on her behalf, including a local high school football team, but sat idly by as they showered her and her family with their love, money, and unwavering support," William Sweeney, Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI stated.
To further aggravate the matter, as alleged, she actively peddled her story in an effort to make more money; falsely claimed that she received treatment from legitimate doctors and hospitals; and produced fake test results to support her claims. Hoobraj's/Deokaran’s alleged crime is not only an injustice to those who were kind enough to help her, but also to those who do truly need the support of their communities and may now be met with suspicion because of Hoobraj’s alleged behavior.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.