Thanks to an outpouring of support from the local community, the family of U.S. Olympic bobsledder Steve Mesler will have free accommodation in Whistler after they were scammed $8,000 trying to rent a duplex to watch their son compete.
Since Metro Vancouver first broke the story on Tuesday, Steve Mesler said his family, especially his mom, has been overwhelmed by people’s reaction.
“My parents had no less than 12 or 15 emails and Facebook messages from people offering up their places, whether it’s a room, the whole house ... people just saying we don’t have much room but if we can help, great.”
Mesler added he doesn’t believe this story casts a negative shadow on the Games or Canadians.
“One rotten apple doesn’t spoil the bunch,” the three-time Olympian said yesterday. “I don’t know how many more places in the world would have this many people step up and let people in ... it’s showing how great the people of Vancouver, Whistler and Canada are.”
Mesler’s parents, who live in Buffalo and are coming as part of a group of 10, have accepted invitations from two families to stay in the Whistler area for free.
The Moore family, who own Burnaby-based Watson Gloves, have a townhouse within walking distance of the Whistler Sliding Centre.
“I felt terrible for the family who were going to come to see their son but now didn’t have a place to stay,” said Michele Moore. “So I sent (Steve Mesler) an email saying if you guys are still stuck and you need a place to stay we have a townhouse in Whistler that we would be happy to lend you so you can see your son during the Olympics.”
Mesler said the scam has not become a distraction for him and that the media coverage and support will help others who have been victimized.
“I know my parents aren’t the only ones this has happened to, now all of a sudden it’s shed a light on Jason Hartlen (name used by the scammer) who hopefully now, because of this attention, it might be easier to catch him.”
Mesler said he heard from a couple who told him they also lost $2,500 to a person by that same name.