Liverpool man jailed over charity bucket fraud


A businessman has been jailed for three years and nine months after pleading guilty to taking at least £213,000 from charity collections.

Harris Polak, 54, of Liverpool, admitted defrauding charities of cash collected in buckets outside supermarkets between 2007 and 2011.

He was contracted by charities to organise collections and take a cut.

However he failed to declare most of the cash that came in, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Much of the money is still unaccounted for as it was taken directly from the buckets and used by Polak to pay for holidays or shopping, the court was told.

Polak hired collectors to stand outside supermarkets including Morrisons stores in Speke in Merseyside, Ramsbottom in Lancashire, and Failsworth in Greater Manchester.

'Despicable crime'

He paid them 40% of the money donated, while he was generally to take 15% under the terms of his contracts.

When police raided his home in October 2011 they found notes that appeared to show amounts collected on behalf of Cancer Research UK that were never declared to the charity.

He had a similar contract with Clatterbridge Cancer Research Trust and was meant to give Cerebral Palsy Care for Children 25% of everything collected in its name.

However, the court heard he was enjoying a "very comfortable life" while paying a "very limited" amount to the charities.

Polak now works as a taxi driver and had his home repossessed last month, the court was told.

Det Sgt Dave Gates, of Merseyside Police, described Polak's crime as a "shameful deception".

He added: "This was a despicable crime defrauding charities of much needed funds.

"Members of the public were deceived by Harris Polak into donating money for genuine charities and he used his ill-gotten gains for his own financial benefit."

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