LYNBROOK, N.Y. — A Brooklyn couple is accused of collecting funds to raise money for a fake funeral for a 5-year-old boy.
Police arrested Brittney Schmidt, 30, and Vincent Fina, 29, in their Mapleton home Friday night.
The couple was spotted by police walking into several businesses with their son in Lynbrook claiming they were collecting funds for a child’s funeral.
Police say the couple collected more than $12,000 for the funeral of Gianni Incandela, now 5, of Staten Island.
The young boy was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor known as Craniopharyngioma in 2016.
The couple told people a story of heartbreak to extract funds to pay for his funeral. Detectives began investigating them and found they were fraudulently collecting donations for a boy who had not died.
They were arrested and charged with scheme to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child. They were released without bail and will return to court on March 7.
The family created the GoFundMe to help his family pay for treatment.
“Gianni has lost all sight in one of this eyes and some in the other of the tumor’s damage,” the page reads. “He has already had 2 major brain surgeries and other procedures in an effort to remove the tumor.”
Gianni’s grandmother told DNAinfo that the couple had taken a flyer off her office desk with his face during an alleged earlier scam. The couple told his grandmother that their son had leukemia.
The Incandela have addressed the scam on the official GoFundMe for Gianni.
“Please be advised that there are people out there who are trying to collect money using this Go Fund Me Info and saying it is for Gianni’s Funeral I can assure you that is not the case,” his grandmother said.
Correction: The spelling of the 5-year-old boy’s last name was initially misspelled. It has since been updated.