The family of a Staten Island boy who is battling a brain tumor has found themselves in the middle of a charity scam, relatives said.
After Gianni Incandela, 5, of Rossville, was diagnosed with a rare tumor called craniopharyngioma last year, his family set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.
More than $22,000 of the $25,000 goal has been raised since the page was created in June, and it seems that scammers are looking to get a cut of their own.
“About a month ago, we started receiving emails from the GoFundMe page saying that someone was collecting money for my son’s funeral expenses,” Gianni’s mother, Kelly Incandela, told SILive.com.
Incandela said several people told her via email that a woman was showing pictures of Gianni that were taken from their page on the crowdsourcing site and asking for donations. None of the money she raised was given to the family, nor did she have permission to collect on behalf of Gianni, Incandela said.
Gianni’s grandmother, Dee Tirado, found herself in the middle of the scam when the woman walked into her Brooklyn office Monday and asked for a donation.
“I immediately confronted her and said, ‘You’re the one who’s been going around asking for money for my grandson,” Tirado told CBS2, adding that she took a picture of the woman, as well as her husband and son, who also came to solicit her with the woman.
Tirado kept paperwork from the woman, which showed the Brooklyn residents, businesses, police precincts and firehouses that thought they were donating to help Gianni and cancer organizations.
Tirado added up the donations and found the woman collected more than $11,000 on behalf of her grandson. “To know that she is benefiting from that, it’s extremely painful,” she said.
She plans to put up fliers with the scammers’ pictures around the borough to alert the public, and the NYPD told CBS2 it will investigate the matter with the Icandela family.
Anyone interested in making a donation on behalf of Gianni are asked to do so only through his GoFundMe page.