Bristol firm raided in bogus charity bag investigation

Police raid house in Horfield Bristol
Image caption The operation was lead by Scambusters working with police and trading standards

Trading standards officers and police have raided a company in Bristol as part of an investigation into bogus doorstep charity clothing collections.

Sparco Ltd is alleged to have sent "trawl bags" printed with "Bernhardos" and "Breast Cancer" to homes in south west England, Wales and the Midlands.

It is accused of collecting the clothes and keeping the cash meant for charity.

The south west Scambusters team led the operation in conjunction with the police and trading standards.

Two houses in the Horfield area of Bristol were raided after more than 100 people complained after receiving the charity bags from the company, also known as Sparko.

The complaints centred around confusion over the bags, which were marked with names which could be confused with genuine organisations such as the children's charity Barnardo's.

'Grabbing bags'

Alan Evans, of Scambusters, said: "We have received numerous complaints about the distribution of bags and leaflets with what we suspect are fraudulent claims that proceeds are for charities.

Image caption The raid was carried out after more than 100 people complained about the bags

"These people fleece genuine charities of vital contributions to help their worthwhile causes from very generous members of the public."

Computers and several charity bags suspected to be fraudulent were seized during the raid.

West country charity St Peter's Hospice used to send out 26,000 charity bags per week but has since stopped carrying out doorstep collections following problems with bogus collectors.

Andrew Hufford, from the charity, said: "They're out an hour or two before our collectors, grabbing the bags, taking them away and obviously re-sorting them and selling them into the international market and profiteering."

St Peter's Hospice now organises home collections by phone and has also set up clothes banks.

Mr Evans said Sparco Ltd was being investigated under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, the Fraud Act 2006, the Companies Act 2006, the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the House to House Collections Act 1939.

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