CALGARY – Two people are facing charges after using fake identification to get emergency money meant for Fort McMurray fire evacuees.
Calgary police Const. Melissa van Waes says a 29-year-old man went to a centre set up by the Alberta government to give debit cards to people who had to flee their homes in northeastern Alberta due to a massive forest fire earlier this month.
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The officer says a Service Alberta worker noticed something when the man produced identification and it turned out it was fake. It was also discovered that the man had two other debit cards from another centre.
Watch below: Between the province and the Red Cross, Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees have received more than $116 million in financial aid along with donated food and clothing. Those services are available to all evacuees in need but as Sarah Kraus reports, not everyone is playing by the rules.
Edmonton police have also charged a woman with two counts of fraud for using fake documents to obtain relief funds.
The Red Cross is seeing isolated incidents in relation to the money it is handing out to evacuees, too.
Red Cross Alberta’s vice president, Jen McManus, said that is typical of humanitarian responses.
“Very few, between one to two per cent of individuals, will ask for assistance who aren’t actually directly impacted by an event such as this.”
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“There have been reports of people attempting to acquire a second set of debit cards or additional funding from the Red Cross,” Shane Schreiber, managing director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, said Friday. “The RCMP and city police are actively investigating those cases.
“We’ve got additional security around those debit card sites to deter that kind of behaviour.”
Schreiber said these types of incidents are rare.
“In general, it’s an extremely small number. We’ve had a handful of reports of this activity going on and, where we get the reports, I know the police are extremely proactive in following up.”
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Debit cards for evacuees are loaded with $1,250 for an adult and $500 per child.
Van Waes says police are working with Service Alberta to determine whether the funds have been accessed.
Charges of fraud under $5,000 and uttering a forged document are pending against the man.
READ MORE: Fort McMurray residents forced out by wildfire long for the comforts of home
The officer says the man has no fixed address.
The Alberta government said as of Thursday, more than 35,000 debit cards totalling $75 million had been distributed.
More than 80,000 residents fled Fort McMurray on May 3 when the fire started burning homes on the edges of the city. Officials have said more than 2,400 buildings were lost but that firefighters managed to save almost 90 per cent of the oilsands capital.
With files from Global News, CFFR