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Phone scam dampens ALS ice bucket challenge donations

Watch above: the ALS ice bucket challenge has blown competing fundraisers out of the water and attracted scam artists

SASKATOON – It’s taken social media and the world by storm.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has soaked millions, raised awareness and generated $12.26 million in donations, shattering ALS Canada’s original $10,000 goal, for the fatal neuromuscular disease.

But a recent scam has put a damper on the cause.

A couple days ago, ALS Canada was forced to tweet that they don’t make phone calls to solicit donations after hearing someone was falsely soliciting over the phone.

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“It’s very disappointing that people would try and take advantage of this incredible generosity the public expressed,” said Tammy Moore, the interim CEO of ALS Canada.

“Depending on what’s out there, they’re opportunistic and so whatever is hot that’s the trend they’re going to jump on,” said retired Saskatoon police Sgt. Brian Trainor.

Trainor, who now privately investigates fraud, calls it another instance of the flavour of the month and recommends people use their sixth sense and be wary.

“They’re not telephone soliciting, they’re not knocking on doors, you want more information contact them. That’s what everybody should do. You get a phone call ask for more information, where do I contact for information, I’m interested in making a donation, if you are how do I find out more,” said Trainor.

This is the first time ALS Canada says anything like this has ever happened. So far, they’ve heard about one case in the country, unlike the challenge.

“With the interest that the ice bucket challenge has received, we’re looking at any of the risks and constantly monitoring because we know that’s become the target for potential fraud,” said Moore.

About 3,000 Canadians currently live with ALS. The average patient lives between two and five years after diagnosis. For every person who is diagnosed, a person living with ALS dies.

ALS Canada plans to work with all provincial society’s around the country to decide where all the donated dollars will be allocated, with most going towards research and client services for a disease that has no cure or effective treatment.