Woman who posed as cancer-stricken Marine Corps veteran pleads guilty to $250,000 fraud

Records showed that the 31-year-old had never served in the US military

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 13 July 2022 21:59 BST
Sarah Jane Cavanaugh
Sarah Jane Cavanaugh (twitter/skingtownrigov)

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A woman who authorities say pretended to be a sick Marine Corps veteran has agreed to plead guilty to committing fraud.

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, 31, of Rhode Island, signed an agreement on Tuesday in a US District Court admitting to fraud and other charges, which could see her jailed for up to 20 years.

She allegedly posed as a Marine Corps veteran with lung cancer to claim about $250,000 in veterans benefits and other donations from veterans charities, US Attorney Zachary Cunha said in a statement.

Mr Cunha said Ms Cavanugh was able to pose as a veteran by wearing a US Marine uniform with medals at charity events, although records showed that she had not served in the Marine Corps or any branch of the US military.

Through her job as a social worker for a veterans organisation in Providence, Rhode Island, Ms Cavanaugh was also able to gain access to documents and medical records belonging to real veterans with lung cancer, which she allegedly used to support her claims, Mr Cunha added.

That included claims that she had been a victim of toxic burn pit exposure while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were false, as the Associated Press reported.

Ms Cavanaugh – who was accused of collecting about $207,000 from the Wounded Warrior veterans charity – has agreed to pay more than $82,000 in restitution for the crimes.

An investigation was launched into Ms Cavanaugh’s claims after a Providence nonprofit specialising in cancer care, HunterSeven, became suspicious of her when she requested assistance from them.

As well as wire fraud, she was charged with aggravated identity theft, forgery, and fraudulent use of medals.

An attorney for Ms Cavanaugh could not be reached.

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