NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Staten Island family spoke out Wednesday after learning that images of their 5-year-old son are being used in a charity scam.
As CBS2's Tracee Carrasco reported exclusively Wednesday night, Gianni Incandela, 5, is full of life – despite fighting a rare brain cancer. He is unaware of the new battle that his Rossville, Staten Island family is now facing.
"I found out via emails from several strangers that I've never met before in different areas, around town in Brooklyn, that a woman had been going around collecting money for my grandson Gianni and claiming that he has passed away," said Dee Tirado, Gianni's grandmother.
Tirado found out that a woman had taken the little boy's picture from his online GoFundMe page, and was telling his story to solicit donations – allegedly keeping the money for herself.
Gianni's' mother, Kelly Incandela, was hurt that someone would try to benefit from her son's illness.
"I ask myself that every day -- how did they pick my son to go around and be their profit?" she said.
And the ruse may have continued if the woman had not walked into Tirado's Park Slope office on Monday asking for money.
"I immediately confronted her, and said, 'You're the one who's been going around asking for money for my grandson,'" Tirado said.
Quick-thinking Tirado took a picture of the woman, her husband and her son, who is also used in the scam.
"I let them know, I'm taking your picture so that everyone in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and anyone that I can reach, will know what you're doing," she said.
Tirado even kept the woman's paperwork, which detailed the countless people, businesses and even police precincts and firehouses in Brooklyn that donated under the illusion of helping Gianni and other cancer charities.
"I added up what she had on her paperwork to the tune of over $11,000," Tirado said. "The financial burden is a really harsh reality, and to know that she is benefitting from that -- it's extremely painful."
Tirado said she plans on putting up fliers with the couple's picture all around Brooklyn to make sure no one else falls for their story.
The NYPD said it will be contacting Gianni's family immediately and detectives will investigate.
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