SICAMOUS, B.C. - Scammers are targeting a close-knit B.C. community grieving the deaths of two kids and their father in a New Year's Day mobile home fire, police say.
RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said fraudsters set up an automated phone line that asks people in Sicamous to record their credit card information to make a donation to the children's mother.
Kara Wagner's sons — three-year-old Lealen and four-year-old Devlin — and her 28-year-old fiance Daniel Vollans died in the blaze while she was out of the home.
Moskaluk said Thursday that whoever is involved in the scheme is victimizing people who are trying to support Wagner.
"It is truly a very dark side of human nature when we see an individual or group of individuals taking advantage of victims involved in such tragic incidents, in addition to stealing from the good heartedness of others," he said.
Legitimate charitable societies, big or small, don't operate by automated phone soliciting, Moskaluk said.
Meanwhile, the BC Coroners Service and the Office of the Fire Commissioner said seven people died in B.C. between Dec. 29 and Jan. 2 in five separate fires — three in mobile homes or travel trailers.
The agencies urged owners and operators of such homes to take precautions to prevent fires because they tend to be more devastating than those in other forms of housing.
The small space puts occupants closer to the fire source, the homes don't ventilate as well as other residences and a second exit is not always accessible, they said.
People living in such units are advised to have furnaces inspected at least once a year, clean the blower and filters often to prevent overheating and keep the furnace area clear of clutter.
Mobile homes and travel trailers must be equipped with smoke detectors, and a fire extinguisher is recommended.