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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Look how scammers prey on grieving this Manitoba family

WINNIPEG - A grieving mom was searching memorials of her 14-year-old daughter last week when she uncovered a scam trying to capitalize on her loss.
Dana Hoffman's daughter, Darah Joseph, died of Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, on Aug. 19.
The remarkable young girl was memorialized in the Winnipeg Sun for her efforts in keeping up her Grade 7 studies and athleticism against stiff odds.
Hoffman, who lives in Selkirk, Man., was searching out online stories about Darah on Aug. 20 when something from popped up -- sending up an immediate red flag.
"I clicked on it, and they had her obituary on the front page, and they were asking for money to help the family," the grieving mom said. "The funny thing is, they deleted the part out about that donations should go to Ewing's Cancer Foundation and instead they put to the family for funeral costs."
She did a little bit of investigating -- a family member e-mailed the poster -- and got a response from someone they'd never heard of. In the small city of Selkirk, Hoffman said, it's unlikely that none of their friends would know this person.
Then again, the site also had peculiar Selkirkian details -- like nasty rumours about one of Darah's former coaches.
The scammers also claimed online they'd met Hoffman in court, which puzzled her, and that she'd told them Darah's favourite singer was Justin Timblerake, which isn't true.
"Long story short, it seems they're using a grieving family to steal money from people. And it's absolutely disgusting," Hoffman said. Police are investigating.
"We'd never asked anyone for money to help with funeral arrangements. Darah had quite a large fundraiser a few years ago and still had money left in her trust fund," Hoffman said.
People who attend a celebration of Darah's life on Sept. 6 in Beausejour, Man., are asked to make a donation to the Ewing's Foundation in lieu of flowers.
"I don't know who these people are, but it's pretty bad," Hoffman said, comparing the scammers to an Ontario woman who faked cancer to scam thousands of dollars from friends and family in 2010.
"People are ruthless."
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Twitter: @tessavanderhart
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