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Police release photos of woman suspected in scam

Uxbridge police released pictures Sunday of a woman suspected of scamming a Catholic charity last month, including a surveillance photo that the charity said showed her cashing the check she received from the church.

Police said Laura Ryan and Joseph Viscusi told members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St. Mary’s Church a fake story to collect money from the charity. Police would not disclose how much money was taken.

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Viscusi allegedly told parishioners he needed money for rent, child care, and other expenses after spending funds he had on his uncle’s burial in New York, police said.

In an interview Saturday, Stephen Abate, president of the Uxbridge chapter of St. Vincent de Paul, said the charity did not follow all of its procedures when it gave the alleged swindlers the money. Abate said Viscusi’s claims would normally have been vetted more thoroughly, but the distribution of funds was expedited because he said the need was immediate.

The church caught on to the ruse when members discovered the Uxbridge and Douglas addresses Viscusi and Ryan provided were false.

Police subsequently determined the two may be responsible for similar schemes elsewhere in the Northeast.

Uxbridge police issued arrest warrants for Viscusi, who is in his 50s, and Ryan, who is in her late 20s.

Both are believed to be New York residents and were seen driving a red or maroon sedan, possibly a Ford, police said.

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