B.C. wildfire evacuee says scammers used his address to claim relief funds

By Global News
November 21, 2017 - 11:39am

KAMLOOPS — A Williams Lake man is warning about a wildfire evacuee scam.

Nick Sardy says he received a call from the Red Cross to confirm whether anyone who lost their home in the fire was now living at his house and accessing benefits through the charity.

Sardy, who was forced to flee his home in July due to wildfires, hadn’t taken anyone in.

He says someone at the Red Cross then told him that 20 people had used his home address to claim benefits like food vouchers and e-transfers meant for evacuees like him.

“Of course I didn’t recognize any of the names and she said that she’ll be going and looking after to see if they can find those people,” Sardy said.

The soon-to-be retiree, who plans to move to Vancouver Island, listed his home for sale on Kijiji back in February.

He thinks fraudsters used his address after seeing the online listing.

Wildfire evacuees registered with the Red Cross were eligible for a $600-per-household payment that came from provincial funding.

Once they returned home, evacuees were eligible for another $300 per household.

“People just try to get things for nothing, so that just doesn’t seem right,” Sardy said.

He isn’t alone in his frustration.

Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb says his home address was also used by scammers. According to Cobb, Red Cross told him his “address was under investigation.”

In a statement to Global News, Red Cross said privacy concerns prevent them from confirming the alleged cases of fraud or whether any funds were paid out.

“While these incidents are rare, we have measures in place to help mitigate such risks and work closely with the public authorities to ensure our support is getting to those who need it most,” the statement said.

“This is fraud in its worst case, people abusing a system that was there to help people in need,” Cobb said.

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