CHARITIES are losing out on £50million a year to east European conmen muscling in on donations from kind-hearted Brits.
Organised crime gangs from ex-Soviet Bloc countries are flooding the nation’s doorsteps with fake charity bags claiming that donated clothes will go to good causes.
But instead the hand-me-downs are being sold to fund smuggling operations by drugs gangs, a Daily Star Sunday investigation has found.
A haul of 100,000 fake bags – accurate duplicates of those used by Cancer Relief UK – were seized in a van coming off a ferry at Dover. They had been printed and packed into cardboard boxes in Hungary.
Mark Rolfe, of Kent trading standards, said: “These are what we now call genuine fakes.
“They are exact copies of the genuine bag labelling that this charity formerly used.
“They were obviously destined to be distributed to people’s homes and the public would have no reason to think that the clothing they donated would be going to help this charity. This sort of crime is very hard to detect, especially when a genuine charity’s labelling is used including its registered charity number.
“Criminals have been stealing genuine bags off doorsteps and printing names of charities that sounded genuine but weren’t. Now they are using the names of real charities.”
Cancer Relief UK director Steve Coupe said: “This is terrible. We are a relatively small charity giving financial aid to cancer sufferers who are really in need. Every penny we can raise is desperately needed.
“It is disgusting to think these people were planning to use our name just to make money for themselves.”
Charities depend on the £100 per ton they can make from collecting unsorted clothes. But those clothes, once sorted, can make up to ten times that in eastern Europe.
Alistair McLean, of the Fundraising Standards Board, said: “Charity bag crime is totally unacceptable. We need the public’s help to stamp this out.
“Before filling up a bag, check with the charity named that they are collecting in that are
Source: Daily Star –