Mayor Walt Cobb confirmed his own home address was used fraudulently by individuals trying to obtain wildfire evacuation payments from the Canadian Red Cross. Angie Mindus photo

Williams Lake Mayor’s address among those used to defraud Red Cross

Canadian Red Cross still set up in Williams Lake to serve residents

Mayor Walt Cobb confirmed Tuesday his own home address was used in an attempt to defraud the Canadian Red Cross fire relief efforts.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Cobb said of other reports of people using home addresses in Williams Lake to apply for Red Cross evacuation payments via e-transfer.

“It disgusts me to what extent people will go to, to scam the system.”

In an emailed response to questions surrounding the reports of fraud, the Canadian Red Cross stated during times of emergency, their focus first and foremost is to ensure they help individuals and families impacted by the disaster as quickly as possible.

“Red Cross takes any situation where individuals attempt to take advantage of assistance programs very seriously,” stated Andrew Hopkins, communications advisor. “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.”

Hopkins added that the Red Cross trusts Canadians and are committed to helping individuals and families who have properly identified themselves as being impacted by the wildfires.

Cobb said he wasn’t planning to apply for the Red Cross funds but was convinced to do so by the organization.

“When I put my claim in, I didn’t receive anything back.”

Cobb said he investigated further because he was hearing of other residents who weren’t getting their money and that’s when he discovered a claim had been made using his address with a name he didn’t know.

Cobb said he doesn’t do personal banking on computers, and doesn’t partake in e-transfers so he had to take extra steps to receive his payment.

The Canadian Red Cross continues to staff its Resiliency Centre located in Boitanio Mall in Williams Lake to assist those impacted by the 2017 wildfires

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