TORONTO — Tragically Hip guitarist Rob Baker is urging fans to be vigilant when buying merchandise that claims to be linked to Gord Downie's charity.
The musician tweeted Tuesday that some online shoppers are being duped into buying T-shirts, hoodies and other items that purport to donate $10 of the proceeds to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research.
Baker says the operators — who are using Facebook and Instagram to amplify their message — aren't linked to the band.
One such group is "Gord Downie Supporters" on Facebook, which has appeared as a sponsored content post in some user's news feeds.
"Wear this t-shirt, and give your support!" some of the posts say.
Each link redirects to "The Hip Store," a website that's not associated with the band but uses a similar domain name.
From there, shoppers can browse a selection of seemingly official merchandise with images from "Secret Path," lyrics from Hip songs and a variation of Downie's famous "Jaws" shirt from last summer's tour.
"Hey folks, there are a lot of THip Tshirts, hoodies...on the net, Instagram, Facebook...claiming that $10 goes to Gord Downie fund. It's BS!" Baker tweeted.
Facebook did not immediately respond for comment.
Deceptive sellers have been a persistent problem for the Hip since Downie revealed last year he was suffering from terminal brain cancer.
The "Gord Downie Supporters" Facebook page was taken down last November for violating its community standards, but re-emerged in January with a new profile. Facebook has yet to shut it down again.
Don Seymour, a Kingston, Ont. resident, was among the Hip fans who unknowingly purchased a hoodie from an illegitimate seller last year, with the assumption a portion of the sale was going to charity. It wasn't until he read media coverage about fake sites weeks later that he realized he'd been swindled.
"Normally I do pretty good research on Google just to make sure it's legit," he said, "but on this one it was just a spur-of-the moment (purchase)."
Seymour hopes to find a positive side to his purchase. Instead of wearing his hoodie, he plans to donate it to a local homeless shelter.
"If it can go to someone that'll keep warm on a cold day, I'm OK with that," he added.
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David Friend, The Canadian Press