GoFundMe freezes funds of Calgary man who says neck sliced by barbed wire on mountain biking trail

The Calgary man who says his neck was sliced by barbed wire while riding on a popular mountain bike trail in West Bragg Creek has had his online fundraising campaign frozen amid complaints about his story.

Crowdfunding site says it received 'complaints' about campaign launched by Stelianos Psaroudakis

Stelianos Psaroudakis says he was out for a fun evening bike ride but ended up having his neck sliced by barbed wire. (Julie Debeljak/CBC)

The Calgary man who says his neck was sliced by barbed wire while riding on a popular mountain bike trail in West Bragg Creek has had his online fundraising campaign frozen amid complaints about his story.

Stelianos Psaroudakis had been asking for $8,000 in donations through GoFundMe, a popular crowdfunding website, but the campaign has now been suspended.

Rachel Hollis, a GoFundMe spokesperson, said Psaroudakis "removed the campaign" himself and the company has frozen any funds he has raised to date, pending further investigation.

"In this case, the campaign received complaints," Hollis said in an email to CBC News.

"When a complaint comes in, we place the funds on hold until additional information is provided by the campaign organizer. We have also reached out to the campaign organizer for more information."

The campaign, which is now listed as "no longer active," had received more than $800 in donations toward its $8,000 goal.

A screenshot shows Stelianos Psaroudakis's deactivated online fundraising campaign. (GoFundMe)

Psaroudakis told CBC News last week he was out for a ride on the trails in the West Bragg Creek Provincial Recreation Area — about 40 kilometres west of Calgary — around 8 p.m. on July 5.

Early into the ride, Psaroudakis said, he was on his way down a hill, standing on his pedals, when he ran into the wire.

He said the wire was strung across two trees, about six and a half feet above the ground, and it "clotheslined me, so I flew up in the air and landed on a rock."

He said his neck was sliced from side to side, more than half a centimetre deep in places, and he suffered a bruise on his back and laceration on his liver from the fall.

Psaroudakis said a friend he was riding with helped him take down the wire and then drove him to hospital in Calgary, leaving his bike on the trail.

The next day, the bicycle had disappeared from the trail, he said.

Not the first crowdfunding campaign

Psaroudakis launched the GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $8,000, which he said he planned to use to buy a new bike, pay for his related bills and buy automated trail cameras to "donate" to the mountain bike trails in the area "and make them safe."

He then shared the link to the online fundraising campaign widely online.

As seen in these screenshots, Stelianos Psaroudakis shared the link to his GoFundMe page widely online, asking for up to $8,000 in donations, after he said he was struck in the neck by barbed wire strung across a mountain bike trail. (Facebook)

It's not the first time Psaroudakis has solicited donations online.

In June, he launched a separate GoFundMe campaign asking for money to help get his Chihuahua back, saying the pet had escaped his home and had been impounded by the City of Calgary.

In March, he circulated a message soliciting donations of furniture that he said he wanted to collect to give to a yet-to-be-identified family in need so that he could "give a little boy or girl the room they deserve."

And in May 2016, he created and shared a GoFundMe page asking for donations to "help rebuild" Fort McMurray after the wildfire that devastated the northern Alberta city.

That campaign raised just $10 before it was closed.

A screenshot shows a GoFundMe campaign shared from Stelianos Psaroudakis's Facebook account in May 2016 to raise funds to help 'rebuild Fort McMurray.' (Facebook)

Cochrane RCMP issued a press release on July 7 asking the public for information about an incident in which a cyclist "struck a barbed wire that had been strung between trees" on a mountain bike trail in West Bragg Creek.

On Wednesday, RCMP said the case remains under investigation.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to to call the Cochrane RCMP detachment at 403-932-2211 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

CBC News left a voicemail for Psaroudakis on Wednesday, asking for comment, but has not yet heard back.

A subsequent call went straight to voicemail and his voicemail inbox was full.