COCHRANE — Fraud and public mischief charges have been laid against a man who said he was severely injured by barbed wire that was strung across a mountain biking trail and then appealed for $8,000 in donations.
Stelianos Psaroudakis, 37, said he was clotheslined by barbed wire tied between two trees while he was cycling near the hamlet of Bragg Creek west of Calgary. He shared photos of a big red gash across his neck.
Psaroudakis also said he left his bike behind on the trail after the fall and it was gone when a friend went back to get it.
He started an online fundraising campaign to raise money for medical bills and a new bike. He raised $851 before taking it down after numerous complaints. GoFundMe says it has since banned him.
RCMP said Friday they received numerous tips from the public and from people that know Psaroudakis.
“As a result of all of the information that they provided us, we were able to determine that he had not hurt himself on the trail the way he claimed,” said RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters.
“We found out that he had actually been involved in a collision with a barbed wire fence, but he was riding an ATV on private property of a friend nearby and that’s how he got the injuries,” Peters said.
“It had nothing to do with the trail system or with mountain biking at all.”
A warrant has been issued for his arrest. Peters said he spoke to Psaroudakis earlier Friday and he said he planned to turn himself in.
“I hope now that he understands that it’s time to just turn himself in and face the music and be done with this, put this whole thing behind him.”
Attempts to reach Psaroudakis were unsuccessful.
He has reportedly used GoFundMe in past fundraising campaigns, including for the Fort McMurray wildfire.
GoFundMe spokeswoman Rachel Hollis said Psaroudakis closed his campaign and all donors have been refunded. He’s been banned from any future fundraising.
“Campaigns with misuse are very rare, making up less than one tenth of one per cent of all campaigns,” she said in a statement.
“Along with a host of proactive measures to prevent misuse, we also have the ability to receive reports from users about potential fraudulent activity, as in this case.”