Bogus charity collection warningOFT urges shoppers to be on their guard

11 December 2007

Charity collection box

A watchdog is warning Christmas shoppers to beware of bogus charity ticket sellers who claim they're raising money for good causes.

The fraudsters are peddling £2 prize draw tickets on UK high streets, promising luxury holidays for the winners.

The tickets and the sellers' promotional literature often show pictures of the charities or people the sellers claim are benefiting from the cash.

Consumers are also told the funds will be used to buy equipment, often large items such as minibuses, for charities.

Office of Fair Trading

But the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) says it’s aware of cases where the tickets are sold by private companies or organisations who pocket a significant cut of the money.

It adds that in some cases there is little or no connection between the company or organisation and the charities shown on the tickets.

The OFT is aware that the bogus charity ticket sellers have been active in Newcastle, Durham, York, Goole, Hull, Newark, Halifax, Crewe, Chester, Leicestershire, Cardiff and Chichester.

It advises consumers to be on their guard and ask sellers:

  • whether they're collecting for a registered charity
  • if so, which one and the registered charity number (you can call 0845 3000 218 or visit the Charity Commission website to check that it's genuine)
  • how much of the money raised is going to charity, and where the rest goes
  • whether they have any proof of the money going to charity (such as a written agreement with the charity authorising them to collect on its behalf).

Bogus sellers

If the seller can supply only a registered company number this may mean that they are working for a company registered with Companies House. It would not prove the company is a charity, or that the seller is raising money for a charity.

Mike Haley, Head of Consumer Protection at the OFT, said: ‘Bogus charity ticket sellers prey on the good will of people who want to help good causes, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

‘We want consumers to make sure they know where their money is going. Genuine charities will be happy to answer any questions about themselves and exactly where money ends up. If there are any doubts consumers should save their money and simply make a donation directly to a charity of their choice.'