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Scammers make bogus fire call to Red Cross, they get money and no show hotel

By Steve MacArthur Mar 17, 2023 | 2:10 PM

Canadian Red Cross logo. Image: submitted

It turns out scammers are behind a fake call for support to the Red Cross.

Spokesperson Dan Bedell tells us, the scammers called the organizations 24/7 hotline to report a fire in Antigonish County earlier this week. They said a woman, her adult daughter, and two grandchildren had nowhere to go after a fire at their house.

As the Red Cross started its verification process, it was later discovered they gave the name of a local fire chief but a fake number.

“If the call comes to us directly from residents and not first responders, our procedure before providing any aid is to confirm the event with an official source like a fire department,” Bedell explains. In this case, regrettably, it was a scam. They used the name of the chief of a neighboring fire department but not their real phone number. A call was made to that number but the person who answered pretended to be the fire chief and provided fabricated information.”

The scammers said a fire had destroyed a home in Arisaig and a young family of four needed help. Bedell says the organization sent a e-transfer to cover a few expenses and a hotel was booked but nobody showed up.

Bedell tells our newsroom in an email, a lot of their services have changed during the pandemic, and have become virtual. He adds they will review their guidelines to see if changes are needed.

“We are very mindful that these changes increase the potential of scam attempts, which unfortunately are a fact of life across all sectors these days. We have numerous measures to verify information with official sources, and this matter will be reviewed to see if additional verification steps may be necessary.” said Bedell.

He says this is rare considering the Red Cross helps about 4,500 every year.

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