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Two people accused of scamming Catholic charity

Uxbridge police are seeking the public’s help to find two people who allegedly scammed a church charity in April.

According to a statement released by police Saturday, Joseph Viscusi and Laura Ryan, who are believed to be New York residents, gave false information to St. Mary’s Church’s chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in order to receive emergency aid from the charity.

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Police are warning local charities that the pair may be serial swindlers, having possibly bilked money from similar charities around the Northeast.

Viscusi allegedly told parishioners at St. Mary’s that he needed financial assistance for rent, child care, and travel and living expenses after spending the money he had on his uncle’s burial in New York, the statement said. The society provided the two alleged scammers with immediate aid because Viscusi said he needed the money to pay his rent that day before going to work, police said.

It was not clear how much money was taken.

After providing the pair with the money, the church discovered the Uxbridge and Douglas addresses they had provided were fake, authorities said.

Stephen Abate, president of the St. Mary’s St. Vincent de Paul chapter, said in an interview that the charity wrote Viscusi and Ryan a check without going through normal procedures. Typically, volunteers fact-check applicants’ requests and do not pay them directly, but because Viscusi said he needed the money immediately, that precaution did not take place.

“We did it for the right reasons, so we’re not upset,” Abate said.

Police said they subsequently determined that Viscusi, who is in his 50s, and Ryan, who is in her late 20s, may be connected to similar scams in New Jersey and elsewhere.

Police have issued warrants for both suspects. They were seen driving a red or maroon sedan, possibly a Ford. The car most likely has New York license plates, police said.

Nicholas Jacques can be reached at nicholas.jacques
@globe.com.
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