Sarah Cavanaugh is a female scammer from Rhode Island who committed massive fraud by pretending to be a Purple Heart recipient and Bronze Star-decorated U.S. Marine. She pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison.
Cavanaugh claimed she was a “cancer-stricken” Purple Heart recipient and was able to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in deceitful charitable donations and veterans’ benefits. According to the Justice Department, Cavanaugh used stolen identities of actual veterans to get the money.
Based on the result of a search of Defense Department records, the female scammer Cavanaugh never served in any branch of the U.S. military.
According to the DOJ, Cavanaugh was a social worker at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center and used her position “to gain access to documents, personal information, and medical records belonging to a Marine and a Navy veteran who was battling cancer.”
Prosecutors categorized what she did as a “near-daily criminal conduct over a period of five years,” saying she defrauded “veterans, veterans’ organizations, veterans’ charities, friends, and co-workers in a “methodical and calculated manner.”
The female scammer allegedly stole more than $250,000 from those organizations in what prosecutors called a “brazen scheme.”
“Sarah Cavanagh feigned having cancer, and falsely claimed valor where there was none, to gain hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits and charitable donations.
Her actions are an insult to every veteran who has served our country, and today she learned her fate for her criminal conduct,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division, said.
“Make no mistake, the FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to seeking justice for anyone who lies about serving our country and illegally takes money from federal programs that help veterans who rightfully deserve it.”
Cavanagh, according to prosecutors, rose to a leadership position at a VFW lodge and gave public speeches while dressed in full U.S. Marine uniform, complete with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star that she purchased on the internet.
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