People claiming to work with Red Cross try to enter Fergus homes: residents

FERGUS – “My home is my safe place to be. That was violated last night.” 

That’s what Fergus resident Jodie Cooper told the Advertiser after someone wearing a Canadian Red Cross lanyard attempted to enter her home on Jan. 18. 

Cooper was sitting on the couch watching television with her father at around 8pm when they both heard someone attempt to open the front door of their south Fergus home. 

The doorbell did not ring and there was no knock – someone just turned the handle, trying to open the locked front door, Cooper said. 

She got up right away and went to the door, by which time the person was walking quickly away, with their back turned.

Their hood was up so she couldn’t see their face, but she could clearly see a Canadian Red Cross lanyard around the outside of their hoodie.

Her voice shook as she recounted the experience, describing how unsafe it made her feel to have someone attempt to enter her home unannounced.

“This is not okay to happen,” she said. 

Cooper has an agoraphobia diagnosis, she said, meaning she experiences intense anxiety or panic in public spaces.

Incidents like this one leave her feeling wary even in her own home, she said, and she had a “really bad panic attack afterwards.”  

“I’m just thankful that we’ve gotten into the habit of locking the door automatically,” she noted. 

Similar incidents

Cooper is not the only Fergus resident who says someone with a Red Cross lanyard attempted to open their front door.

OPP media relations officer Joshua Cunningham said there are multiple occurrences on record last week regarding incidents with people claiming to be with the Canadian Red Cross attempting to open people’s front doors. 

There are also three reports of similar incidents, occurring on Jan. 17 and 18, shared by Fergus residents on the “Fergus/Elora Community News” Facebook page. 

“Heads up neighbours in the north end of Fergus: Just had two female ‘Red Cross’ representatives try to open my door and then knock,” one post in the group states. 

Another stated, “Someone claiming to be from the Red Cross just opened my front door. And says she mistook it for a doorbell. Located on Black Street. Please be aware.”

A comment on that post states, “She was at my place last night on Campbell and tried to open our door (it was locked)! It was so weird. She knocked, then tried opening the door.” 

Cooper said the same thing happened to her neighbours, but in this case the door was unlocked and the person physically opened the front door to their house. 

Both Cooper and her neighbour reported the incident to Wellington OPP, and Cooper said an officer responded quickly to her call to the non-emergency line, visited her home, listened to what she and her neighbours had to say, and “said he and his partner would canvas the area.” 

Cunningham explained people cannot be criminally charged for opening a front door, unless there is proof that person opened the door with the intent to commit a crime, such as to look inside for valuables to steal.  

Regarding the incidents last week, Cunningham said, “I don’t know what witnesses thought they saw, but investigators found there was no criminal element.” 

Ensuring legitimacy 

One of the Facebook posts states the person claiming to be with the Red Cross asked for a cash donation after attempting to open the front door. 

Canadian Red Cross spokesperson Jason Small confirmed there was a team of Canadian Red Cross canvassers working in Fergus last week, but he said Red Cross representatives do not ever accept cash donations – only automated monthly donations with credit or debit cards. 

Small said the Red Cross social media team received messages on social media from Fergus residents about suspected fraudulent activity, and they passed on information about what people can look out for to ensure legitimacy. 

This information is available at

“If people are concerned or have any doubts by all means raise those concerns with us, or the police,” Small advises. 

Reporting scams

To report concerns to the Canadian Red Cross, call 1-800-418-111 or email

Cunningham said he recommends people keep doors locked, whether they are home or not, and alert the authorities if they suspect someone is trying to scam them. 

“If someone is on your front doorstep, call the police,” he said; call “911 if it’s an emergency” and for non-emergencies call the dispatch centre at 1-888-310-1122.

“We will sort it out,” Cunningham assured.

“We know that a community in stress is not at peace. One of our objectives is to maintain peace.” 

Suspected scams can also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.