Saskatchewan

Regina police receive report of fake donation canvassers in wake of Sask. fires

The Canadian Red Cross says it is not canvassing door to door for financial donations, but Regina Police said it has received a report that people have been asked for money for wild fire relief by canvassers who appeared to work for the Red Cross.

Other ways to help, including summer clothing donations to Salvation Army

Workers sort through clothing donations at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre in Saskatoon. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

In the wake of difficult forest fires forcing thousands from their homes in northern Saskatchewan, many are wondering how they can help those who are affected.

But according to a report from Regina police and complaints from residents, it seems some people may have found ways to exploit the disaster for their own personal gain.

Misty-Lee Selinger said she was annoyed when what appeared to be fake Red Cross canvassers knocked on her door in the Cathedral area Monday night and woke her children. (Roxanna Woloshyn/CBC)
RPS Social Media Officer Kim Schmidt told CBC that police had received a report from a Red Cross organizer that a Regina resident had been approached by people wearing red shirts who were asking for money on behalf of the Red Cross. 

Two people in Regina's Cathedral neighbourhood also told CBC that Red Cross canvassers came to their doors asking for money to support northern evacuees from fire-affected areas.

Misty-Lee Selinger was alarmed when her doorbell rang at 8:45 p.m. CST on Monday night.

"I realized later it's a little strange for Red Cross to be out canvassing, even after 8:00 seems a little late to me," she said.

Denise Pasapas said she became suspicious when a man and a woman knocked on her door and asked for money on behalf of the Red Cross for northern evacuees, but couldn't provide proper identification. (Roxanna Woloshyn/CBC)

She said a young man and woman were on her front step wearing red lanyards and holding clipboards.

But she told them to leave because they had woken up her young children.

Her neighbour, Denise Pasapas, said she could tell the two weren't legitimate when they didn't offer any identification or pamphlets. Instead they gave her a ripped piece of paper with a phone number written on it, telling her to call them in an hour.

"It's sad to actually expect it and to have to watch for those things, and to be able to recognize that and also inform yourself," said Pasapas.

The Red Cross says canvassers are typically done their rounds "at the end of the day."

Red Cross not aware of scam

Cindy Fuchs, the provincial director for the Red Cross told reporters Tuesday that the organization has door-to-door canvassers on an ongoing basis, but they wouldn't be directly soliciting money to support northern evacuees. (CBC)

The Red Cross says it's not aware of a scam, but said it's not actively canvassing for financial donations related to northern fire relief.

"We've checked that out and that's not what we're worried about. But we're certainly aware that that could happen," said Cindy Fuchs, provincial director for the Canadian Red Cross.

Instead, she told reporters Tuesday that the organization is working on behalf of the provincial government to provide direct support to evacuees registered with the Red Cross.

On Monday afternoon, Premier Brad Wall threw in his two cents on the matter, using twitter:

The Red Cross said there may be people working on behalf of the larger organization to solicit money, but that it would only solicit specifically for northern disaster relief once it moves from immediate response to recovery mode.

Fuchs said the Red Cross and the government only move into recovery mode if there is damage to homes and communities. She said she would notify the public if that becomes the case.

Police advise people to ask canvassers for proper identification, and if they're interested in donating, to do it online.

Warnings of bogus crowdfunding campaigns

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and the Prince Albert Grand Council are also worried about scammers.

They have put out a warning on social media that they are not endorsing any GoFundMe.ca campaigns.

Concerns have been raised in recent days that bogus online crowdfunding campaigns are circulating.

How you can help

There are ways to help that are safe and will directly benefit those most in need.

The Salvation Army is taking and sorting through donations at drop off sites in Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

Specifically, Maj. Mike Hoeft said swimsuits and flip flops are needed for days when temperatures get really high.

But other items like underwear, socks, and summer clothes are also needed.

Overwhelming generosity in Saskatoon

The Salvation Army in Saskatoon has received so much support it is closing its donation drop off tent at the Henk Ruys Soccer Centre on Wednesday at 1 p.m. CST.

Over 2,700 people have received clothing through donations at the tent in Saskatoon.

It says it has received enough donations to end this emergency phase of fulfilling the immediate needs of evacuees.

Now, laundry services have been set up so evacuees can wash their belongings.

Anyone in Saskatoon who would like to continue to drop off summer clothing donations can take them to Salvation Army stores in the city.

Donations can be dropped off at these locations: 

Saskatoon: 

  • 410, 42nd A St. E. 
  • 3000 Diefenbaker Dr.

Regina: 

  • 840 Albert St. 
  • 1711 Dewdney Ave. E.

Prince Albert: 

  • 900 Central Ave.

With files from CBC's Roxanna Woloshyn

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