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Jan Shallard (80) was ''mercilessly'' bled of $7000 by 57-year-old Dorothy Pearson who posed as a well-meaning community member keen to help out the dementia sufferer across the road.
The woman was sentenced to five months' community detention but Judge Philip Connell only ordered half the stolen money be repaid because of her bleak financial position.
The case, heard before the Dunedin District Court last month, struck a chord with University of Otago student Emily Ewers (20).
''I saw the article on Facebook, I read it and ... I just got mad,'' she told the Otago Daily Times.
''She's elderly, she's got dementia, she's vulnerable and she gets taken advantage of.''
Despite having never met Ms Shallard, the second-year student from Richmond wanted to help.
''I'd seen a lot of Givealittle pages and it sounded like something I could do. It didn't seem too difficult,'' she said.
A page appeared on the crowd-funding website earlier this week detailing Ms Shallard's plight, and within hours donations had passed $500.
Yesterday the total sat at $590.
''Oh lovely,'' Ms Shallard said when told of the rising figure. ''Aren't people kind?''
She was stunned someone like Ms Ewers, out of the blue, would lead the charge in restoring her financial position.
''Sometimes, with all this going on, I'd think 'people are getting so evil', but you forget out there are lovely, kind people.''
It would be ''absolutely wonderful'' if the $3500 shortfall was raised online.
So how would Ms Shallard spend it? There would be no lavish purchases; more likely it would be squirrelled away for emergencies. But she said she may allow herself some cask wine to mark the occasion.