Brooklyn couple who were arrested earlier this month for allegedly creating fake charities has been rearrested on new charges in connection to charity scams that conned Long Islanders out of hundreds of dollars.
30-year-old Brittney Schmidt and 29-year-old Vincent Fina allegedly used their own son, and the story of someone else's son, to scam people out of money in Lynbrook, Baldwin, Queens, and Brooklyn.
The two were first arrested in early March and are facing new charges in connection with the same alleged scams that affected 15-20 victims.
“We knew from their own statements that they had been doing this for at least 4 months; it turns out that they were doing this for at least 8 months. While the complaint charges hundreds of dollars we believe that they've actually collected thousands of dollars over the 8 plus month period," Economic Crimes Bureau Chief Diane Peress said.
Prosecutors allege the husband and wife used several charitable scams to obtain money. One of which used a Staten Island boy named Giani who has a rare brain tumor, according to his GoFundMe page—the site page warns people not to give money to anyone who claims to be raising funds for his funeral.
"They started out with their 11-year-old son allegedly saying he had leukemia and that he was collecting for a cancer camp. Then they moved on to the whole Gianni thing. At one point they were trying to collect gifts for Gianni. Eventually, they tried to collect for the non-existent funeral for Gianni,” Peress said.
Although Gianni is alive, the defendants allegedly told people money was needed for his funeral. According to court documents, Gianni's family does not know the defendants.
Prosecutors allege the defendants at times kept their 11-year-old son out of school to assist them in their scams.
Schmidt and Fina allegedly went to local businesses and even firehouses to collect funds.
"In fact, usually it would be Brittney Schmidt who would have a list and she would go to the firehouse and say, ‘look at all these other firehouses that contributed and that would,’ to try to induce more firehouses to contribute," Peress said.
Both defendants were released on probation on Monday and were each ordered to 28-day drug treatment programs for what drugs is unclear.
Prosecutors believe there may be many more victims out there. If you know of any, please call the economic crimes bureau at 516-571-2149.