Warning after bogus East Anglian Air Ambulance collections

The East Anglian Air Ambulance has backed a police warning for people to be on their guard against suspected bogus charity collectors in Norfolk.

Sheringham resident Annette Copeman alerted the police this morning, Tuesday August 9, after challenging three people collecting bags of donations from her road.

The collection followed flyers posted through letterboxes in the area headed 'Urgent Appeal! Air Ambulance Support. Help us to keep them flying.'

But East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) spokesman Helen Dodman said the EAAA charity did not receive a penny from the collections which misled people into thinking they were supporting their local air ambulance.

'We are aware of this organisation and unfortunately they're not just in Sheringham,' said Ms Dodman. 'They're everywhere and they prey on the fact that people think they're us. We have fantastic support from residents in that area who willingly give so much and it annoys us that these people are exploiting that generosity,' she added.

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Mrs Copeman, of St Austin's Grove, spotted two young women and a young man collecting bags from her road and putting them into a white van.

She tried to question them about who they were working for but they claimed to speak very limited English. Mrs Copeman believes they were from eastern Europe. As soon as they were challenged, Mrs Copeman said the trio drove away from her road but not before she had taken a note of their vehicle's registration number which she has passed on to police.

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She said: 'It's fraud at the end of the day - they're collecting under false pretences.'

The flyers asked for clean, quality clothing, shoes and other items and said �80 per tonne raised 'will be given to your local air ambulance.'

But Ms Dodman said official EAAA collection leaflets bore the charity's logo and were conducted by their authorised agents, World UK Ltd.

Anyone who had doubts about the authenticity of collections on behalf of the charity could check by phoning the EAAA direct on 0845 066 9999.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council trading standards department said door-to-door clothing collections could be completely legitimate but there were occasions when they caused concern and not all callers or leaflets purporting to be from charities and asking for donations were genuine.

'Some unscrupulous traders will make collections without any subsequent donation to the charities concerned,' said the spokesman.

'If you are in any doubt as to the validity of the clothing collection it is best to use your local charity shop where you will know the recipient organisation of your donation. If any member of the public has any concerns, they can call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.'

Police are calling on anyone who saw the collectors or has knowledge of the incident to ring 0845 4564567 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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