Beware of ‘bogus’ charity collectors, warns Honiton PCSO


- Credit: Archant

PCSO Darren England and Tony McCollum, manager of Honiton’s market are working together to monitor charity collectors in town.

Police are urging residents to keep an eye out for bogus charity collectors who could flock to Honiton’s streets this summer.

PCSO Darren England, from the town’s neighbourhood policing team and Tony McCollum, manager of Honiton’s market are working together to monitor charity collectors in town.

They say that while the majority of collectors are genuine, there is a growing proportion who are taking money from unknowing members of the public for their own gain.

Mr England said: “We want people to be aware that there are people like this on the streets.

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“We are concerned that people are being scammed - there are lots of the genuine groups out there and people like this are ruining it for the honest charity collectors.”

For the last two years, Mr England and Mr McCollum have been gathering information on rogue collectors in an attempt to clamp down on the dishonest activity.

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They say the data revealed the scam has been going on in most towns across the region.

Mr McCollum, a former Honiton resident, said: “I don’t like the idea of people robbing citizens who are generous enough to give to charity.

“You have rogues coming in here who do not want to work for a living and are potentially stealing thousands of pounds from residents.”

The pair are now urging residents to think before they give money to the street collectors.

Mr England added: “If you know the collector, or support the charity, that’s fine. If you are not sure, there is nothing wrong with asking the collector, and if people are still concerned, they can always search the charity on the internet.

“You will find if they are bogus collector, you may see a warning on the internet from other villages and people who have been scammed.”

An East Devon District Council (EDDC) spokesman said those wanting to carry out a charitable street collection in East Devon require a permit, which they must apply for from EDDC at least 28 days before the preferred collection date.

They added “It is advisable that they telephone the council before making the application, to ensure that the collection area and the date they want is available. We are able to make provisional bookings over the telephone. Once the collection has been carried out, they must supply a ‘return’ for the collection, which should give details of the amount of money raised. This must be done within one month of the collection.

“There is no charge for the issue of a permit and the person/organisation applying for a permit need not be a registered charity. Applications that are not considered to be in the public interest may be refused. We may, when granting a permit, limit the collection to a specific time period/street/public place, as appropriate.”

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