10/07/2014 10:10 EDT | Updated 12/07/2014 05:59 EST

Wedding thief makes off with couple's cash gifts

Family members have started a crowdfunding campaign for a newlywed Mississauga after a thief posing as a staff member at their reception hall made off with all of their cash gifts — leaving the couple tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Joey Peregine told CBC News his brother Paul and wife Pam were married on Saturday. The wedding was well-attended, he said, with about 300 guests leaving cash gifts for the new husband and wife.

“The last thing you remember in that night happening is that we realized the money was gone, and it’s just really hard.”

The night was perfect, Peregine said, until a stranger offered to help clean up at the end of the night.

“Just because he was so comfortable helping us and stuff, we assumed that he was part of staff,” he said. “The next thing we knew, he was nowhere to be found and the cards with all the money were gone too.”

Surveillance video from the venue shows a man the Peregines say posed as a worker at the banquet hall.

York Regional Police Const. Laura Nicole said weddings thefts are not as common as they once were, but that’s no reason to let your guard down.

“At large weddings, there’s a lot of people lot of people going in and out not everyone knows each other,” Nicole said. “Some criminals see that opportunities to blend in and potentially steal a large quantity of cash like in this case.”

Police advise newlyweds expecting large cash gifts to consider hiring private security for the reception. Guests are also advised to give person cheques instead of cash gifts.

Peregine has started a crowdfunding campaign in the hopes of recouping the money his brother and new wife lost.