Authorities are investigating to see if more people fell victim to a scam they’ve alleged a Brooklyn couple perpetrated by using a 5-year-old cancer patient’s photo to collect money for a fake funeral.
The Nassau district attorney’s office said Brittney Schmidt, 30, and Vincent Fina, 29, pleaded not guilty Tuesday during a Mineola court appearance to charges of scheme to defraud and endangering a child’s welfare.
Prosecutor Diane Peress, chief of the district attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau, said the brain cancer patient is alive and has no connection to the suspects, who she said found the child’s story on an online crowdfunding page.
Peress said the suspects collected between $150 and $170 from victims by going from business to business with their 11-year-old son on Feb. 21 in Lynbrook. Lynbrook police arrested the couple March 3, and Peress said authorities believe the scam may have gone on for months in Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn.
She said asked anyone who gave money to the suspects to call prosecutors at 516-571-2149.
Schmidt and Fina refused to answer questions about the case Tuesday while leaving court. Prosecutors said a judge released both defendants to probation officials without setting bail after initial court arraignments Saturday, and that those terms remain in place.