Faking cancer means big bucks for young Canadian woman

This article in the Toronto edition of The Star tells it as well as coverage anywhere else: a 23 year old Canadian woman named Ashley Anne Kirilow shaved her head and her eyebrows, plucked her eyelashes, and starved herself in order to look like a cancer patient in the midst of chemotherapy.

She began a Facebook page, 'Change for a Cure', ran a phony charity, and took money from anyone who would give it to her, using a variety of lies and sob stories to recruit sympathetic volunteers to her cause. These people unwittingly hosted fundraisers for her, businesses donated products, bands played benefit concerts, and Ashley pocketed their money.

Estimates put her total take at well in excess of $20,000. If you factor in the debt she accumulated during this time, the take exceeds $50,000.

She says she did it all because her childhood sucked. Worst excuse ever.

HOW TO AVOID ASHLEYS

Below are some resources you can use to determine the legitimacy of a charity. Keep in mind that even these watchdogs don't always agree, chiefly because they tend to use different parameters. Nonetheless, here are three sources to start with:

- The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance;
- Charity Navigator
- The American Institute of Philanthropy's CharityWatch.org

Finally, a good article from MSN Money on "How to tell good charities from bad".

A WAKE OF BITTERNESS

Ashley has surely embittered and jaded hundreds or even thousands of good-hearted people. Those people could be considered naïve or careless in not checking out her story first but they didn't do anything wrong … they just didn't do things right.

Ashley says she wants to give back the money (none of which she has). What horrible things does it say about her that she's the only one who really cares about the money.

By Ross Bonander
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