An RCMP investigation into a Calgary man's claim that he was injured by barbed wire while mountain biking on a trail near Bragg Creek has resulted in charges against the complainant.

Stelianos (Stelios) Psaroudakis, 37, told CTV Calgary that he was riding with a friend on an unnamed trail on the evening of July 5 when he was thrown from his bike.

“I was going down a hill and, as soon as I looked up, there was something in my peripheral and it was barbed wire,” recounted Psaroudakis in the July 14 interview. “I had no time to react and I got it into the neck. I flew back, I fell on my back and I hit my back on a rock.”

Psaroudakis said he left his bike at the scene, walked back to his vehicle and visited the emergency room at the Foothills Medical Centre for treatment of the cuts to his neck, bruising on his back and a laceration on his liver.

The 37-year-old Calgarian, who works as a mechanic, reported the incident to RCMP and launched a GoFundMe page in the hopes of raising $8,000 to help cover his day-to-day expenses and purchase motion sensor cameras for the trail.

The RCMP investigation into Psaroudakis’ claims involved interviews with the alleged victim, other mountain bikers who had been on the trail on July 5 and Bragg Creek residents. Investigators say they received numerous tips from the public that led them to conclude the barbed wire encounter never happened.

“As a result of information provided to investigators by other cyclists and users of the trail system and numerous tips, we have determined that the injuries sustained by Mr. Psaroudakis were not caused in the manner he reported,” said Inspector Lauren Weare, Cochrane RCMP detachment commander. “Our investigation has concluded that Mr. Psaroudakis was riding an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and was involved in an incident at another location at another time and was not riding a bicycle."

According to Weare, Psaroudakis was injured after colliding with a barbed wire fence, constructed to contain livestock, on private property within the jurisdiction of the Cochrane RCMP on July 5. 

"The injuries are legitimate, absolutely, but not in the manner he reported," said Weare. “There was no intentional putting up of barbed wire across the bike trail to hurt or injure cyclists or any public that was using that trail.”

"There never was a bike or a scene involving a bicycle."

An arrest warrant was issued for Psaroudakis in connection with charges of:

  • Fraud under $5,000
  • Public Mischief

The ‘Almost died on trail by barbed wire’ GoFundMe campaign was closed by Psaroudakis but GoFundMe withheld the funds after receiving complaints regarding the legitimacy of his claims.

The campaign was not Psaroudakis’ first foray into crowdsourcing. The Calgarian attempted to raise funds to pay to have his dog released from the SPCA earlier this year and, in 2016, he tried to collect donations to help rebuild Fort McMurray following the wildfires.

On Friday, GoFundMe officials confirmed Psaroudakis has been banned from using the website.

"We can confirm that the campaign organizer Stelios Psaroudakis, closed the campaign and all donors have now been refunded,” said Rachel Hollis, communications manager for GoFundMe in Canada. “Stelios Psaroudakis has also been banned from using the GoFundMe platform for any future campaigns.”

“Campaigns with misuse are very rare, making up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. 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.”

“Fraud, whether it takes place online or offline, is against the law. If it takes place online, GoFundMe donors are protected by the GoFundMe guarantee and their donations are refunded. Our team also works with law enforcement to report issues and assists them in investigations."

Psaroudakis surrendered to members of the Cochrane RCMP detachment on Friday afternoon.

After being released from custody, the accused attempted to explain the reason for not disclosing the ATV crash.

“I was trying to keep a friend out of trouble,” said Stelianos outside the RCMP detachment. “He had an unregistered, unlicensed vehicle with no brakes.”

When questioned on his decisions to report hitting barbed wire while mountain biking and to create a GoFundMe campaign, Stelianos apologized.

"I'm stupid," declared Stelianos. "I want to help and I never do it the right way."

"I wanted to donate (the money) for cameras and stuff to help a cause."

The Calgarian said he would not fight the charges. "I'm pleading guilty. I made a mistake and I'm going to face them."

Psaroudakis is scheduled to appear in Cochrane Provincial Court on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.