A Westchester woman who claimed she had leukemia and took to GoFundMe to raise over $50,000 on allegedly fraudulent terms has been arrested in Florida and charged with wire fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Vedoutie Hoobraj, also known as Shivonie Deokaran, was charged with the crime for concocting "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," acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Joon H. Kim said in a press release announcing the arrest. Kim said that Hoobraj went as far as allegedly faking medical records to trick people into raising money for her to treat a disease she didn't have.
An investigation into the fundraising began last spring, when Hoobraj left Westchester for Florida after she raised over $60,000. Hoobraj managed to raise over $50,000, for what she said was medical and other expenses, from 300 individuals from New York and around the country, after setting up a GoFundMe in October 2014 and August 2015. On the fundraising pages, Hoobraj claimed she had just 18 months to live.
In addition to the GoFundMe money, Hoobraj was given $16,274 by the Student Activity Fund of Ardsley High School, which they raised for her through a spaghetti dinner in November 2015.
Hoobraj's boyfriend claimed that the two of them and her two children moved to Florida because New York was too cold for her, and rumors of her faking her diagnosis were too stressful for her.
Hoobraj allegedly told neighbors and investigators that she'd been treated by a doctor at Sloan Kettering Medical Center who had been killed in an earthquake in Nepal, and then was treated by doctors at Mount Kisco Medical Center and Bronx Lebanon Hospital. However, prosecutors allege that she'd never actually been treated by those doctors.
She also allegedly sent one of her donors lab results supposedly showing that her "hemoglobin, platelet counts, and red blood cell counts were all outside the stated normal ranges. However, prosecutors claim that the medical records from Jacobi Medical Center were faked, and actually showed no abnormalities in her blood.
If convicted of wire fraud, Hoobraj faces up to 20 years in prison.