Scammers target family who lost three members during fires
A family grieving a father and son killed in fires at Cobargo have suffered a new blow with scammers using the tragedy to appeal for donations from the public.
The misuse of the tragedy has added to the misery for the Salway family, first plunged into shock when Patrick, 29, and his 63-year-old father Robert were killed trying to protect their farm.
Within 30 hours Robert's elderly mother Edna died without learning her son and grandson's fate.
Dean Hancock, who is married to Patrick's sister Kellie-Anne, took to Facebook to confirm they had "suffered yet another loss with the peaceful passing of Robert's mother Edna" on New Year's Day.
"As some would know, my beautiful wife Kellie-Anne comes from one of the hardest-hit regions of the NSW Fire Emergency, Cobargo," Mr Hancock wrote.
"Kellie-Anne is doing OK, although, her family being cut off, both by road and communication, is making it very hard to grieve the way she needs to."
Mrs Salway died within 30 hours of Robert and Patrick's deaths.
The family is also gutted after scammers set up an online fundraising campaign to solicit donations from members of the public,.
Almost $4000 was raised from nearly 60 people before the fundraiser was reported and shut down.
Ms Hancock and her husband first learned about the scam from their niece - whose name was used to set up the scam account.
She realised when she began receiving unexpected messages from wellwishers.
Mr Hancock reported the scam to NSW Police, as well as the AFP and said those behind the fundraiser "will be held to account".
"There will never be a GoFundMe Page issued by this family," he said.
Fair-trading NSW have urged the public to be aware and that "scammers are smart" and will "use events like bushfires to fraudulently take money from others''.
Paying tribute to the Salways, Mr Hancock said: "Robert and Patrick were two of the most genuine and family-oriented men I have ever met."
"You will leave a massive, massive hole in the dynamic of, not only this family, but the whole community."
He added that his wife's siblings' homes located nearby were "reasonably intact", although they had "suffered huge losses on their farms".
The bodies of Patrick and Robert were found by a family member early on Tuesday at their property in Wandella, about 10km northwest of Cobargo.
Patrick's wife Renee - who is expecting the couple's second child - posted on social media shortly after their death and said that her family was "broken" as they dealt with the loss of the young father.
"I love you now, I love you still, I always have and I always will. I will see you again Patrick, my best friend," she said.
Property owner Ange Kane said her town could rebuild all of that but could never replace father Robert Salway and his son Patrick who died in the fire.
"They were good people, good people who did lots for the community," she told The Daily Telegraph.
"Cobargo can be replaced but we can't replace those amazing two men that we lost."