Accused cancer fraudster faces new charge
Published Wednesday, August 11, 2010 7:26PM EDT
A woman accused of faking cancer to defraud donors of thousands of fundraising dollars remains in police custody and has had another charge levied against her.
Ashley Kirilow appeared in a Milton, Ont., court Wednesday morning. Prosecutors told the court they have added a fourth charge -- fraud over $5,000. She had faced three counts of fraud under $5,000.
The new charge relates to an incident alleged to have occurred between Feb. 1 and March 30, 2009, according to the Toronto Star.
During her appearance, Kirilow -- a 23-year-old native of Burlington -- wore her hair in a ponytail.
"It was weird to see her. I hadn't seen her in about nine months -- and she's got hair now," said former friend Jennifer Prior.
At one point, Kirilow had no hair on her head or eyebrows, claiming that she was suffering the effects of chemotherapy. An unofficial charity effort received thousands of dollars in donations.
"The way she looked, the way she acted. I was under no guard. I thought she actually was a cancer patient," said Jan Care, who helped raise money. Her allegations form the basis of the fourth charge.
Family and friends have expressed dismay at the recent turn of events.
Kirilow's father, Mike, suspected his daughter was not actually ill with cancer. After his daughter confessed the ruse to him, he reported her to police.
Care said after she read an online note in June from Ashley's mother saying this could possibly be a scam, she contacted police.
Care said the mother's note was all the more surprising because Ashley had said her parents were dead.
Prior said that she had been friends with the accused in high school but had lost touch.
"She contacted me last summer through text to tell me she had terminal brain cancer and that she wanted to contact me first because I was her best friend," Prior said.
Although she had offered to accompany Kirilow to chemotherapy sessions, Ashley had said that wasn't necessary, Prior said.
A student and graphic artist, Prior said she didn't donate much cash to Ashley but did a poster and some other communications work around last Christmas.
But shortly after, Kirilow dropped off everyone's radar, she said.
Prior said she went to Wednesday's court hearing not out of friendship with Kirilow, but to see the accused and to learn more about what was happening.
The allegations don't come as a complete shock, Prior said, claiming that Kirilow liked to "play the victim" in high school.
"It was always about her. I would give, give, give, and she would never listen when I needed her. Eventually, that's why our friendship died out after high school," Prior said.
But when she heard the cancer claim, it struck a chord because she and Kirilow had lost a mutual friend in high school to cancer, she said.
Care noted that Kirilow had visited small children in hospitals, an act that "upsets me no end."
Prior said in court, Kirilow made no direct eye contact with either her or any other former friends and was very quiet.
Kirilow is scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 19.
Halton Regional Police say their investigation is continuing and more charges could yet be laid.
No allegations have been proven against Kirilow in a court of law.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Sneha Kulkarni