Con artist poses as NHLer to scam ailing girl

CHRIS DOUCETTE -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

You'd think a 12-year-old girl laying paralyzed in a hospital bed with a broken neck would be the last person a con artist would prey upon.

But a St. Catharines couple says that's exactly what happened when a man posing as an ex-NHLer hit them up for a loan, posing for pictures and signing an autograph for their daughter as she recovered from an ATV accident at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

"If I wasn't so vulnerable dealing with my daughter, I would have been more street smart and he wouldn't have gotten a dime from me," said Alex Shepp, the girl's father.

Shepp said he was in the hospital's lobby in August when he met the man, who claimed he played hockey for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s. He said he was in town with Ottawa's alumni team for a game.

Shepp said the man told him he had been at the hospital for kidney stones and his teammates had gone on ahead to Detroit, taking his wallet and truck with them.

The man visited with the girl, promising hockey tickets, mementos and even a laptop, an experience that gave his daughter a much-needed boost, Shepp said.

She's been in hospital, paralyzed from the chest down, since July 25. Doctors say she may never walk again.

Shepp lent the man money for food and medication. He and the girl's mom, Christine, even let him stay with them at Ronald McDonald House for the night.

"I can get over the $40, but I'm angry about the kids," Shepp said, adding the man visited other children in the hospital.

Christopher John Richer, 39, of no fixed address, is wanted on fraud allegations.


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