England

Secret filming exposes Kent bogus clothing collectors

Bogus clothing collectors in Kent are falsely claiming to be raising cash for the UK's biggest breast cancer charity, an investigation has revealed.

The BBC secretly filmed the group making collections, and went on to discover that no funds had been given to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The footage was shown to Breakthrough, which said the bogus collectors were stealing from the charity.

All the evidence from the investigation is being passed to the police.

In the covert footage, a man who called himself Zydronas said he worked for a charity in London but admitted all the collected goods were taken to Lithuania. He could not provide an address for his alleged employer.

'Organised crime'

An internet search revealed that a mobile phone number he provided for his alleged employer was linked to several online adverts in Lithuanian, all seeking clothing collectors.

After seeing the footage, Phil Wilson, from Breakthrough, said: "People are thinking they're giving money, or clothes that are going to be turned into money, on behalf of Breakthrough, and it's not, so it's theft.

Image caption The leaflets used by the men show the breast cancer pink ribbon logo

"The fact that people are stealing directly from a charity is disgusting."

The leaflets used by the bogus collectors show the breast cancer pink ribbon logo and claim to be collecting on behalf of Breakthrough.

Surrey County Council said similar leaflets had also been hand delivered to homes in Banstead.

David Moir, from the Association of Charity Shops, said: "There are more and more legitimate textile merchants who have a perfect legal right to collect textiles and sell them on, but there are also out-and-out thieves.

"We believe there's evidence to suggest some of them are parts of organised crime networks."

Commercial clothing collectors who operate under a council licence and make a donation to charity donate between £50 to £100 for every tonne they collect.

A tonne of second-hand clothing can fetch up to £700.

Clothes Aid, which collects across the UK on behalf of charities and complies with Charity Commission regulations, has said it fears that fraudsters are depriving genuine charities across the UK of up to £14m a year.

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