Kent

Kent trading standards: Fake charity collections 'booming'

Bags being collected
Image caption Kent trading standards said bogus collections were "a booming industry"

A seizure of 100,000 fake clothing collection bags at Dover has shown bogus charity collections are "booming", trading standards have said.

The officers were alerted to the haul at the port earlier this month by the UK Borders Agency.

The bags bore the name of the charity Cancer Relief UK.

The charity has confirmed that the bags were fake. Trading standards said they could have been used in a significant fraud.

Mark Rolfe, trading standards area manager, said bogus charity collections were a "booming industry".

Charity 'devastated'

He said the sheer scale of the operation at Dover, involving bags imported from eastern Europe, had taken officers by surprise.

Mr Rolfe said: "I think it goes to show how much money there is to be made using second-hand clothes and recycling.

"Part of that is good news obviously that people are not just throwing things away and legitimate charities can benefit, but with any growing industry where there is lots of money involved, fraudsters do creep in."

Steve Coupe, from Cancer Relief UK, said the charity was "devastated" to hear about the seizure and had made all efforts to try to stop the activity.

He said: "As soon as anyone gets on to us and asks if the bags are legal, I can say categorically straight away it's an illegal bag."

Mr Rolfe said rising complaints about bogus charity collectors in the county had seen trading standards investigations into the problem rise from 16 to 38 in a year.

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Media captionMore than 100,000 fake clothing collection bags were seized at Dover

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