Alert on bogus collectors

POLICE CALL IN  ... Viv Watts, of Hope4Kidz, which has been the victim of bogus collectors.
POLICE CALL IN ... Viv Watts, of Hope4Kidz, which has been the victim of bogus collectors.

A CHARITY in the North East has called in police after it found bogus collectors conning money from people.

Viv Watts, chief executive of Hope 4 Kidz, said two phoney collectors had been collecting in the Asda store, at Pennywell, Sunderland, and taking money in the charity’s name.

Police are now involved and have launched an investigation.

Mrs Watts said: “I’m absolutely gutted. We use money from collections to fund things like parties for youngsters.

“It is essential to us. People doing things like this is taking away from the beneficiaries, the children, who so desperately need the money.”

Mrs Watts, who has worked for the charity since it began in 2007, said: “They were collecting in Asda, and when they were questioned by staff, they ran off.”

The bogus collectors were spotted in the store some weeks ago, but Mrs Watts was only recently made aware and contacted police.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “At just before 11.30am on Friday, December 7, police received a report of a possible fraud regarding a charity collection at Asda Pennywell. Further inquiries into the incident will be conducted.”

Hope 4 Kidz is a national charity based on Wearside, that has helped more than 15,200 children in its five-year history.

Mrs Watts added: “A little charity like mine can’t survive if people like this take the money we would have collected.

“We have Christmas parties, family fun weekends – all sorts for children in the area and beyond.”

Mrs Watts said anyone with concerns about any collectors should not hesitate to check their identification, and get in touch with the charity directly to ensure they are legitimate.

She said: “If anyone has any concerns about collectors, ask them for their ID badge and check it has a charity registration number.

“These people had very convincing stickers to hand out to donors, but they did not have a charity registration number on them.

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101, ext 69191.