Prosecutors: Child funeral scammers may have more victims
Prosecutors called the charges against a Brooklyn couple accused in a fake funeral scam in Lynbrook "disturbing" during a court appearance Tuesday.
Prosecutors say Brittney Schmidt, 30, Vincent Fina, 29, and their son went into several stores on Merrick Road on Feb. 21 to solicit donations for the funeral of a 5-year-old boy.
They say the actual 5-year-old does have a brain tumor but is not dead. Dee Tirado, the grandmother of the boy, told News 12 that she believes the couple took the picture of the boy from a GoFundMe online fundraiser and put it on a canister to solicit donations from Lynbrook businesses.
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"I'm going to make sure that my family and I continue to blast her all over social media so everyone knows her face and they never give her another dollar," says Tirado.
Diane Peress, of the Nassau District Attorney's Office, says there are allegations that the scam went on for months in Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County.
"We are working together with the police department to identify others who have donated to this scam," says Peress.
Schmidt had "shhh" written on her finger as she and Fina left Mineola court. They both pleaded not guilty to charges of scheming to defraud and endangering the welfare of a child. They are due back in court next week.
Prosecutors are asking anyone who believes they may have been scammed to call 516-571-2149.