Be On Your Guard Against Bogus Charities

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Be On Your Guard Against Bogus Charities

Residents have been warned to be on their guard from the threat of bogus callers and charity conmen targeting the Cotswolds.

Cotswold District Council has become aware that an organisation claiming to be a charity is leafleting homes in the District in a bid to collect unwanted goods such as clothes, perfumes and other household items.

However, concerns have been raised by a Cotswold District Council Member about the legitimacy of the charity, the Children’s Welfare Foundation, and the parent companies which prop it up.

Initially, the Council’s Portfolio holder for Safe and Strong Communities, Cllr Clive Bennett – who became suspicious after CWF leaflets were delivered to houses in South Cerney – contacted the Council’s Licensing Team, who informed him that the organisation was operating without the required licence for door to door collections.

It was then discovered that the Charities Commission had begun an investigation into the charity on January 14th 2008 – under the Charities Act 1993 – after complaints came in from around the country about its fund-raising methods. Attempts by the Charities Commission to have the CWF wound up have since come to nothing and the charity have also had its assets frozen.

Cllr Bennett said: “Through my knowledge of the licensing procedures, I wondered whether this organisation had the relevant document required to carry out these collections in the Cotswolds – and they didn’t.

“Overall, the vast majority of charity doorstep collections are genuine but there are some unscrupulous operators preying on people’s good nature and this is an example of that.

“We must stress to residents to check out the credentials of collection firms and be sure their donations are going to a good cause.”

The house to house collection licence, issued by the Council’s Licensing team, allows charity organisations to collect goods from resident’s homes, and it is free. It enables Council officers to regulate who is collecting what items from people’s homes, how often this takes place and whether the work is above board.

Cllr Bennett also warned residents to be on their guard against bogus callers.

Recent figures released by Gloucestershire Police show that the number of distraction burglaries in the Cotswolds went down from 42 from 2006-7 to 37 for the period of April 1st 2007 to March 31st, 2008.

And the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership keeps this figure low by raising public awareness of the problem, through posters, information sessions, community talks, setting up Neighbourhood Watch schemes and educating vulnerable members of the community.

Bogus callers and conmen use a range of ruses to carry out their crimes, including pretending to be from one of the utility companies – such as the Water Board, gas or electricity – or from an official body such as a Council.

One person will usually distract the homeowner at the front door, while an accomplice will gain access via another entrance and search for valuables such as money, jewellery or credit cards.

Cllr Bennett added: “The figures show that CDC’s message is getting through to people. The numbers may be very small but we hope to get them even lower.”

“The victims of this crime are usually the elderly and I find that despicable that people should pray on them in this way.”

Posted : 20/05/2008 17:59:17

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