Remember in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when Matthew Broderick faked a debilitating illness and it was cute and hilarious and everyone liked it? Turns out, in real life it’s just sort of sad and bewildering.
Taking advantage of her countrymen’s innate kindness and trust, 23-year-old Canadian Ashley Kirilow allegedly performed an elaborate charade for more than a year, posing as a cancer patient and soliciting funds for a fake charity called Change for the Cure. The money, raised from benefit concerts and donations from Toronto’s music and skateboarding scenes, instead allegedly went into Kirilow’s pockets. Volunteers say she swindled almost $30,000 Canadian ($29,000 USD), as well as a free trip to Disney World from the charity Skate4Cancer.
Despite the amount of money raised, Kirilow apparently spent it all. She was reportedly thousands of dollars in debt by the end of 2009 and filed for bankruptcy this past January.
The scheme was apparently hatched in 2008, when Kirilow had a benign lump removed from one of her breasts. She subsequently began asserting that she suffered from terminal cancer of many different varieties: of the brain, of the stomach, of the liver and of the ovaries. She also allegedly removed her hair and eyebrows in order to seem as if she was suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy.
Kirilow’s father, skeptical of his daughter’s claims, eventually needled out the truth from her in April and gave her 30 days to go public with her admission. Instead, she ran, and apart from an interview with the Toronto Star, has not been officially heard from since. In that same interview, Kirilow states that she only stole less that $5,000 Canadian. (In Canada, a theft of over $5,000 is an indictable offense.)
Saddest of all are the quotes Kirilow’s family provided the Star, none of which paint her in a remotely favorable light:
–From her father: “She loved playing the victim, because it gave her control over people.”
–From her mother: “She always wanted to be the princess … She just wanted more and more, no matter what I gave her.”
–From her grandmother: “You couldn’t trust anything she was saying.”