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article imageAshley Kirilow vilified for alleged cancer charity scam Special

By Stephanie Dearing     Aug 9, 2010 in Crime
Everyone pitied the brave young woman who said she had multiple cancers. People dug into their pockets to give her money to help her charity, Change for a Cure.
After Ashley Kirilow went public last week, claiming she had defrauded people, she turned herself in to police and has since been charged with three counts of fraud under $5,000. Kirilow was to have a bail hearing Monday, but that was put over until Wednesday because no one came to post surety, the Toronto Star reported. She could face a maximum of 2 years in jail for each charge if found guilty.
Kirilow has been vilified by many for coming clean to the Toronto Star saying a lie had spiralled out of control. Rage against Kirilow's confession is growing, even though it has not yet been found to be true. A Facebook group, Demanding Ashley Anne Kirilow be held accountable, has over 2,000 members.
Those in the know allege Kirilow made off with at least $20,000, an amount that under different circumstances would only merit the young woman a mention in the local newspaper after she'd been found guilty. But because Kirilow claims she faked cancer to get the money, her story has gone around the world. Kirilow is being compared to an American woman known as "the hipster grifter," who has allegedly defrauded people of at least $60,000.
Kirilow started up the allegedly fake charity, Change for a Cure, in September 2009. She was interviewed by Youth Are Awesome in November last year about Change for a Cure, where it was alleged that Kirilow had breast, brain and stomach cancers.
After Kirilow's father publicly disowned Ashley, some have come to sympathize with Ashley. Tammy wrote on Ashley's Facebook page, "... I feel very sorry for those who got suckered into this. But....I was reading the things that her family said about her, and I find it a little suspicious. No matter what I did, my family would stick by me and support me. Not throw me under the bus like hers. I would guarantee that her family dynamic has something to do with what's wrong with her. And THAT is also very sad."
Mr. Kirilow, who claims to be responsible for his daughter's apparent brutal public honesty, told Inside Halton he knew of his daughter's scam in 2009, but didn't blow the whistle because "We thought people would realize she was lying."
The Toronto Star learned the Halton Police had received a complaint about Ashley Kirilow in late June.
The Globe and Mail reports Mr. Kirilow is now alleging that people who were fundraising for his daughter are receiving death threats. This allegation has not been verified.
While the majority of the public is finding it easy to weigh in and judge Ashley as guilty long before her court date, other people say the young woman did something good. Barb wrote "... In the grand scheme of things this impostor got many people together to raise awareness and funds for such ruthless disease. So what, the inspiration was fake but everything else was genuine. She will get what is coming to her, a loss of everyone in her life, jail time and having to pay back the spent funds to the charity they were intended for. And in turn more people have been brought together for a good cause."
Kirilow told people Change for a Cure was raising money for DCA. Recent testing has shown DCA has promise for brain cancer treatment, and researchers are moving towards multi-center trials, according to a report from CBC News earlier this year. DCA appears to kill cancer cells, and if used at the right dosage, does not cause damage to other cells.
Aspiring musician Jamie Counsell, 17, helped Ashley fundraise. He wrote on his blog "We have been contacted by family members of Ashley Kirilow, the founder and director of “Change” For A Cure, who have told us that Ashley never had cancer. She led us to believe that she did in order to start this charity. She waxed her head and plucked her eyebrows in an attempt to look as if she was suffering the effects of chemo. Beyond this, she has raised over $20,000 for the charity, and had/has no intention on delivering it to the University Of Alberta, to whom it was originally intended ... This information has arrived to us very recently, and we have done everything in our power to see to it that this money does end up in the hands of the university. It was a decision by the C4AC team to share this situation, as so many of you were such loving supporters and gave so much to what was known at the time to be an amazing cause."
Reached via email Monday, Counsell said "I am no longer answering media, so I can't give you much information, besides the fact that the $20,000 is an estimate based on addition of different events that were held, and claims from individuals who donated a large amount. We are working on getting testimonials from those who donated larger amounts so that we can get a more accurate number. Her father is also stating the $20,000, and her charges currently account for most of that (three charges of fraud under $5,000)."
All Halton Police are saying at this time is: "In June 2010 the Halton Regional Police Service became aware of a woman who claimed to be suffering from cancer and fundraising for cancer charities. The woman organized various fundraisers with the assistance of several other persons who legitimately believed her to be terminally ill. An investigation by Fraud Bureau investigators with the Halton Regional Police Service has determined that the woman does not have cancer or any other life threatening illness and that funds raised were converted for her own use.
Ashley KIRLOW (sic), 23 years of age, with no fixed address turned herself into the 20 Division (Oakville) police station on August 6th and was arrested by members of the Halton Regional Police Fraud Investigation Bureau. She is charged with three counts of Fraud Under $5,000 and was held for a video bail hearing on August 7th.
The Halton Regional Police Service continues to investigate this matter and asks that any person with relevant information contact the Regional Fraud Investigations Bureau at (905) 825-4747 Ext 8739."
Blogger Elyse Bruce said "... people knew that certain things in Kirilow’s story weren’t adding up. People were afraid that others may think them insensitive for questioning Kirilow’s heartbreaking yet inspiring story. Supporters were concerned that others may accuse them of prying into her personal affairs. Group members wanted to be seen as caring and compassionate even though what they accepted at face value should have been doubted. All the signs were there. But they continued to support her until the story broke at the beginning of August."
Kirilow did not have any supporters in the courtroom for her bail hearing Monday.
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