Warning against Christmas scam

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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A Christchurch duo selling Santa hats and claiming to be hospital staff raising money for sick children have sparked fears of a "disgusting" Christmas scam.

The pair introduce themselves as Christchurch Hospital workers fundraising to buy Christmas presents for sick children and have been seen selling the Santa hats at popular restaurants in the city.

However, the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) is completely unaware of the fundraising initiative and said it was not sanctioned by the hospital.

The CDHB informed police about the possible scam yesterday.

CDHB acting chief executive Mary Gordon warned the public to not donate money toward "hospital causes" unless the collectors can display an official photo ID.

The Santa-hat-selling duo, a male and female, approached Winnie Bagoes in Ferrymead to sell the hats on Saturday night.

They claimed to be from Christchurch Hospital and had a badge on their jackets displaying the hospital name and a red cross logo, a Winnie Bagoes spokeswoman said.

Diner Angela McCall said the "untidy" duo moved from table to table saying they worked at the hospital and were selling Santa hats for $5 each to raise money and buy presents for sick children.

They sold about 10 hats at McCall's table but she said she smelt a rat.

"I was really suspicious, it just didn't seem right," she said.

McCall, who works for a social agency, questioned why the pair were fundraising only four days before Christmas, which would likely not have left enough time for the hospital to pull the funds, buy the presents and deliver them to the children.

She also thought it was odd for the CDHB to "send people around pubs to fundraise". McCall rang the hospital to ask about the fundraiser and they knew nothing about it.

"Who would be so low as to do that? People in good faith are buying these hats thinking that it would be nice at Christmas to help these sick children. It's just disgusting," she said.

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