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Hamilton police warn of AIDS Walk fundraising fraud

Organizers encourage people to donate online

'FRUSTRATING.' AIDS Walk organizers hope the Hamilton fraud incident will not deter others from donating.

A Hamilton man is using an AIDS Walk For Life pledge form to fraudulently obtain money from people, police allege.

“It’s frustrating. It’s a cause with so much need, and it’s frustrating to have someone abuse it,” says Kim Thomas, director of programs at the Canadian AIDS Society — the group organizing the AIDS Walk.

On Sep 13, the suspect allegedly approached an off-duty police officer outside a grocery store and asked for pledges for the Walk For Life. The officer was suspicious and noted that the man’s name did not match the name on the pledge form, according to a Hamilton police media release.

The suspect had been seeking pledges in the same area for the past week, police allege. Police describe the suspect as a 30-year-old white male, with a medium build, brown hair and blue eyes. He is said to be 5’11” and 160 pounds.

The Canadian AIDS Society is encouraging all potential donors to use their online donation service rather than providing cash donations to people they don’t know.

“This appears to be an isolated incident involving one person,” says Canadian AIDS Society executive director Monique Doolittle-Romas. “We hope it will not deter others from giving to legitimate fundraisers.”

Since 1996, the AIDS Walk For Life has raised over $25.8 million to support programs for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. AIDS walks take place across Canada this month, including Toronto (Sep 16), Ottawa (Sep 22) and Vancouver (Sep 23).