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Holiday season scammers targeting food banks

Innisfail food bank joins Red Deer with warning that fraudsters are calling up citizens asking them to donate to food banks
Food banks in the region, including the Innisfail and District Food Bank, are advising citizens to be careful with any suspicious phone calls from people asking for donations to help local food banks. File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – With the holiday season now upon everyone fraudsters are back with an ugly twist.

They are going after kind and generous citizens who have a soft spot for food banks.

Earlier this month, Red Deer RCMP issued a public warning to be wary of any telephone calls that were attempts of getting citizens to donate to food banks.

In a media release issued by the Red Deer Food Bank it was reported the scam was brought to the attention of the agency in mid-November when the family member of a donor called to inquire about a telephone solicitation.

“Upon further discussions with this person, we discovered that the phone number used was based out of Maryland, U.S.A. We then notified the RCMP and they had already launched an investigation into the matter,” said Mitch Thomson, executive director of the Red Deer Food Bank. “The Red Deer Food Bank has and never will use telephone solicitation to request money from the public

“At a time of the year when it is already tough enough for people in our community – and for us to keep up with the demand for our support – it’s extremely disheartening to hear about this illegitimate activity that robs both our donors and us at the same time,” said Thomson.

He added the scam could have a negative impact on the food bank’s efforts to fundraise, as people who believed they’d already donated had those funds stolen and are unable to do so again.

Heather Taylor, co-coordinator of the Innisfail and District Food Bank called the scam “horrifying” and said her volunteer workers were briefed about it last week.

“I alerted everybody that was there and told them to talk to their friends and tell them not answer any of those calls,” said Taylor, adding her agency plans to put out a warning on social media to “educate the public.

“It’s horrifying, truthfully. There seems to be just crooks everywhere. It’s a very sad situation,” she added. “It’s taking money out of whoever’s pockets and its not going to the right place.

“I don’t know of any food banks that phone for donations.”

Taylor added her agency does keep in touch with the Red Deer Food Bank, and has had past discussions with Thomson on various issues.

If Innisfail and area citizens receive suspicious telephone calls about food bank donations he or she is encouraged to call Innisfail RCMP at 403-227-3342 or check out the website of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at



Johnnie Bachusky

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