North Port man arrested for fraud, raises $85,000 on cancer lie

A man lied about having cancer to get tens of thousands of dollars from generous friends and family. We spoke to a cancer patient Thursday who says this is despicable.

Jason Depretis of North Port faces a fraud charge for scamming community members out of more than $85,000. He let people believe he was a cancer patient in need of financial support.

Deputies say he fabricated documents from several medical providers. Sandra Scheel has lived with breast cancer for nearly two years, and she says it’s a physical, emotional and financial fight.

“You have a new norm,” Scheel said. “The old you is never back. ”

That’s why she can’t believe a North Port man lied about having cancer and using fundraising websites to raise more than $85,000 from his family, friends and a Charlotte County business for cancer treatments.

A scammer stole hundreds of dollars from Scheel last year, money she needed for her medical bills. So she knows what it’s like to be deceived.

“It makes you cautious. Yes. You are sick to your stomach. You are embarrassed,” Scheel said. “For someone to fake something like this, it’s just unimaginable.”

Macey King is a survivor of child cancer. As an adult, she now raises money for those still fighting and serves as an oncology nurse. She worries scams like this prevents people from helping those who really need it.

“The majority of people out there who are saying that they are suffering from cancer and really do need help, it may negatively affect that, which is so terrible,” King said.

WINK News’ Safety & Security Specialist says those who donated should be able to get their money back, but it’s important to watch out for people taking advantage of your kindness online.

“If it’s an opportunity to help a person, people want to try and do it,” Specialist Rich Kolko said. “But you got to be careful because the scammers are still out there.”

As Scheel continues to be treated for breast cancer, she thinks about the legacy she wants to leave behind and she says Depretis should do the same.

“All I can say is life is too short, and how do you want to be remembered?” Scheel said. “How does this man who scammed these people, how does he want to be remembered?”

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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