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Press Release

Woman Sentenced For Defrauding Donors Of Over $50,000 By Misrepresenting That She Had Terminal Cancer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that VEDOUTIE HOOBRAJ, a/k/a “Shivonie Deokaran,” was sentenced today 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.   HOOBRAJ pled guilty to an Information on January 12, 2018, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith.  HOOBRAJ was sentenced by U.S District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti.                                               

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “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.”

According to the Information, other documents filed in this case, and statements made during court proceedings:

From 2014 through 2016 in Westchester County, New York, and elsewhere, HOOBRAJ, then a resident of Dobbs Ferry, New York, solicited donations by falsely stating that she had been diagnosed with terminal stage leukemia, had been given only 18 months left to live, and needed money for medical care and other expenses.  HOOBRAJ obtained 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.  HOOBRAJ publicized her fundraisers in press interviews, online postings, and emails, among other means.  HOOBRAJ received in excess of $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, HOOBRAJ 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.  Subsequently, HOOBRAJ checked herself into Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, (“Jacobi”) for an examination.  HOOBRAJ 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.”  

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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. 

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Ardsley Police Department.  Mr. Berman also thanked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance. 

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Vladislav Vainberg is in charge of the prosecution.   

Updated July 13, 2018

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 18-236