Woonsocket woman who claimed she had cancer ordered to pay back $26,000

Woonsocket woman who claimed she had cancer ordered to pay back $26,000

WOONSOCKET – The Woonsocket woman accused of duping friends and family into giving her money by falsely claiming she had cancer has been ordered to pay back all of the funds, state prosecutors said this week.

Alicia Pierini, 39, pled no contest to obtaining more than $26,000 by claiming she had a brain tumor and setting up a GoFundMe page in 2017 to request donations. According to prosecutors, Pierini, who did not have cancer, used the money to buy trips, tickets to sporting events and other personal expenses.

Attorney General Peter Neronha said this week Pierini was ordered to repay $26,993.26 to her victims. More than $16,000 will be paid to GoFundMe, which has already reimbursed individuals who donated through the page, while another $10,840 will go to family members and friends who contributed to Pierini directly.

“Today’s sentence is a significant step forward to ensure that those who were victimized by the defendant’s scheme are made whole,” Neronha said. “I suspect, however, that no amount of restitution will fully repair the harm done to the trust and relationships between her family, friends and generous members of the public.”

According to the attorney general’s office, Pierini set up the page in January of 2017, claiming she had cancer and needed assistance to pay for her medical treatment. She took steps to sell the story to the public, shaving her head and eyebrows in order to claim she was receiving treatment.

Friends, family and other individuals donated more than $26,000 in contributions. However, around May, several individuals tipped off Rhode Island State Police that the story might not be true. Police began investigating and found she was never a patient of any of the doctors or treatment facilities where she claimed to be receiving treatment. They concluded she was using the money to pay for her personal expenses.

Pierini was charged with one count of obtaining money under false pretenses over $1,500. In addition to repaying the funds, she was given a 10-year suspended sentence with 10 years of probation.

Detective Conor O'Donnell of the RISP led the investigation, and Special Assistant Attorney General Eric Batista prosecuted the case.