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Indian-American in N.Y. defrauded donors pretending to have terminal cancer

Vidoutie Hoobraj, a/k/a “Shivonie Deokaran, was sentenced July 13, to 24 months in prison for wire fraud in connection with her scheme to defraud donors by falsely claiming that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and needed money to pay for her treatments.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that Hoobraj pled guilty back in January before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith.  She was sentenced by U.S District Judge Vincent E. Biccetti.

In addition to the prison, term, Hoobraj, 38, of Orlando, Florida, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $51,938 and restitution to victims in the amount of $47,741.20.

“In a cynical exploitation of people’s generosity, Vedoutie Hoobraj created an elaborate fiction about having cancer to reap charitable contributions from well-meaning donors.  Hoobraj even falsified medical records to conceal the fraud.  Today, she has learned to the price of such brazen conduct,” Berman is quoted saying in a press release.

From 2014 through 2016 in Westchester County, New York, and elsewhere, Hoobraj, then a resident of Dobbs Ferry, New York, solicited donations by falsely claiming that she had been diagnosed with terminal stage leukemia, and had only 18 months left to live; that she needed money for medical care and other expenses.  This is according to the Information filed in the case and other documents pertaining to it, as well as the statements made during court proceedings.

She got the donations through two GoFundMe fundraising websites, direct giving, and a fundraising event hosted by parents and students of Ardsley High School, the high school attended by both of her sons.  She publicized her fundraisers in press interviews, online postings, and emails, among other means.  Hoobraj received more than $50,000 in donations from over 400 individuals in Ardsley, New York, and elsewhere based her misrepresentations.

When questioned by the Ardsley Police Department on or about January 20, 2016, the Indian-American falsely stated, among other things, that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer by a specific oncologist who she claimed died in an earthquake in Nepal in April 2015, the press release noted.

Subsequently, Hoobraj went to the extent of checking herself into Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, for an examination.  She then provided donors forged lab work from that examination, indicating that her hemoglobin, platelet counts, and red blood cell counts were supposedly consistent with a cancer patient’s.  In fact, the actual medical record provided by Jacobi to Hoobraj stated, “Your labs turned out to show no abnormalities.”