2 arrested in scam targeting veterans in Brevard County



ROCKLEDGE, Fla. - Rockledge police said they uncovered a scheme that investigators believe was targeting military veterans.

Christopher Higginbotham is a school teacher and veteran who served in Afgahnistan who was recently handed a business card with the name Philip Charles on the front.

"He told me he was a lawyer who litigates for veterans and benefits," said Higginbotham.

But Rockledge police said Philip Charles was actually Philip Cassamassima, who is not a lawyer.

Investigators said Cassamassima posed as an attorney and used his partner in crime, Dora Richards, to pose as a nurse.

Higginbotham said the two promised to get him money for a military injury, but after he paid the pair a $1,000 fee, his wife became suspicious.

"(Richards) started talking medical issues and my wife being a nurse, a real nurse, called her on that," said Higginbotham.

Police and prosecutors said Cassamassima has a long criminal history and was recently released from prison on grand theft and scheme to defraud charges.

Prosecutors said Cassamassima is also a high-risk sex offender, something that made the situation worse for Higginbothan, who has a 2-year-old son.

"I let my son on his lap and he's touching him and telling him to call him Uncle Phil," said Higginbotham.

Investigators arrested Cassamassima and Richards. Both will face charges in connection to the scheme, authorities said.