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Canada has answered the call. Proving to be one of the world’s greatest humanitarian nations, Canada has expressed an outpouring of support for the people of Haiti who are currently experiencing one of their worst tragedies in centuries. Following the earthquake of this past Tuesday in the nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince, the death toll continues to mount and the destruction seems endless.
Answering the call of the Canadian government for citizens to generously donate towards the relief effort, Canadians have been quick to provide what they can through numerous outlets. Yet while various organizations are receiving funds on behalf of Haiti, the FBI and the RCMP are warning people to be weary of con artists who are posing as aid groups seeking donations for the ravaged Caribbean nation.
Writes Peter Zimonjic in today’s Toronto Sun, “both agencies say fraudsters have already started rolling out the scams and it will get worse in the days and weeks ahead.”
FBI special agent Jason Pack had this to say: “We’re trying to get out in front of the scammers because we know in situations like these, when people really need help, unfortunately the scammers come out and try to set up shop as well.”
One would think that during such a horrific time when human beings are in such dire need of assistance, that even the lowliest of con men would take a break. Not so, reveals Zimonjic, as he notes that the RCMP has received numerous calls from people saying that they have been called by so-called “representatives” of legitimate aid agencies looking to have cash wired to bank accounts.
Cpl. Louis Robertson of the RCMP revealed the following: “Somebody will call and say they are from the Red Cross Canada asking people to wire them money. When they want you to wire money, you should hear alarm bells, real aid agencies don’t do that.”
Robertson warns Canadian citizens that another phase of scams will come through e-mail with “fraudsters” utilizing the logos of legitimate agencies to create convincing messages that will request for credit card numbers among other details.
Sadly, such circumstances were the case shortly after Hurricane Katrina, reports Zimonjic. Several hundred thousand dollars found their way into the hands of criminals who had set up fake websites to collect money purporting to go towards the relief efforts.
The easiest way to avoid a scam, warn police, is to contact a legitimate agency yourself in order to make a donation. Canadians are reminded that one of the easiest and most convenient ways to lend a much-needed helping hand to the people of Haiti is to simply text the word “Haiti” to 45678. This will provide a $5 donation towards the Salvation Army’s Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund. If you are a Rogers or Bell carrier, the donation will simply appear as a charge on your phone bill.
For more information, visit www.salvationarmy.ca.