Scammers try to capitalize on tragedy

Warning: Police advise caution with automated phone solicitation.

Sicamous RCMP confirm that unscrupulous scammers are trying to take advantage of people hoping to help Kara Wagner, the young wife and mother who lost her family in a New Year’s Day fire.

Reports recently surfaced that someone has been calling residents in the region trying to take credit card numbers under the guise of making a donation to Wagner.

Wagner lost her spouse Daniel Vollans and her two boys Devlin and Lealen when their mobile home burned in the early evening of Jan. 1.

On Monday, Cpl. Dan Moskaluk, the RCMP E Division’s senior media relations officer, issued a warning to the public that fraudsters have set up an automated telephone soliciting line prompting people to record their credit card information and make a donation.

“It is truly a very dark side of human nature, when we see an individual or group of individuals taking advantage of victims involved in such tragic incidents in addition to stealing from the good heartedness of others who seek only to help a person like Kara, ” states Moskaluk.

Posts by the administrators of the Support Kara Wagner Facebook page indicate the calls come from an automated system which asks for a donation and then tells the callers to press # followed by their credit card numbers.

Brianna LaRoy, a close friend of Wagner’s and an organizer of fundraising efforts, says the number that has been showing up on caller IDs is 310-8682. The number is a “spoof” of a legitimate number used by Telus for service calls. There is no area code, so attempts to call back go nowhere.

“It’s just so disappointing that two days after this happens and while we are getting so much wonderful support from so many people, someone has to try and take advantage of the situation,” says LaRoy. “It’s more than disappointing, it’s horrible. We just want to let people know and nip this in the bud.”

Organizers of fundraisers advise there are only three legitimate ways to donate funds to help the 25-year-old Sicamous woman: through trust accounts at the TD Bank or Salmon Arm Savings & Credit Union Branch, through the Support Kara Wagner Facebook page using the Fundrazr app, or through participating local restaurants and pubs, which are allowing people to add donations to their bills.

Donations of items for a Jan. 20 auction and benefit at the Sicamous Legion are being sought from Shuswap area businesses, but LaRoy says prospective donors are welcome to ask those approaching them for ID and a donation letter. They can also check on the claims by calling her at 250-804-5836 or through the Facebook page, which is being closely monitored.

“We don’t want this negative thing to discourage anyone from donating,” she says. “People from Sicamous, Salmon Arm, all over, are offering to help and we want people to know their contributions are going where they are supposed to be going — to Kara.”

The RCMP warn that legitimate charitable societies, big or small, do not operate by automated phone soliciting, so do not give out your personal banking or credit card information and donations in this manner. Verify who you are dealing with, says Moskaluk, noting charitable organizations always encourage you consider donating after you are well informed as to who they are.

 

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