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Door-to-door clothes collection scam

Dateline: 3rd May 2012

Monica Trust leaflet - click to enlargeWe had been having a spate of leaflets through the door requesting old clothes to support various charities so I did some investigation into one of them. The leaflet was from a company called Monica Trust Ltd and it claimed they 'created textile industry employment within the UK' and 'proudly supported UK cancer charities'. However, my suspicion was aroused because their contact details consisted of a mobile number and a Yahoo email address. So I checked their company registration number - 07166406.

The company was formed in February 2010 and appears to have been in the hands of a number of people with non-English names. The name of the last owner was Darius Lesnickas. Monica Trust was never registered as a charity, filed no accounts and was dissolved in October 2011 - eighteen months after formation yet apparently was still trading seven months after its dissolution.

That was enough to tell me that criminal activities were afoot so I emailed the details to Bexley Trading Standards with a copy to the Metropolitan Police. My assumption was that everyone in the vicinity would have received one of these leaflets so the police could catch the culprits red-handed when they tried to collect the plastic bags.

I received a reply from Bill Ewing at Bexley trading Standards saying he had passed the information to the local Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team telling them that the collections were being carried out on the Friday. He had also communicated with the Companies House investigation section who would investigate the use of a dissolved company's name.

Three weeks later I learned that the police had been too busy to prioritise the matter (in other words a fraudulent crime was of no importance to them) so I wrote to Bill Ewing to see if he or Companies House had any success. Ewing replied that he had passed the information about the company across to his colleagues in East London, adding, 'We continue to monitor Charity collections within the borough but due to the level of work we have we cannot investigate every leaflet put through doors.'

In August, I followed up with another email to Ewing stating: In the absence of any further communication I assume nobody bothered to take any action. But I understand the 'House to House Collections Act 1939' requires charity collectors to obtain a collection licence (in advance) from the licensing department of the local council in each area where they intend to collect. Failure to do so means they are acting illegally! I also pointed out that I had received another plastic bag from a Lithuanian company called Intersecond Ltd claiming to be collecting clothes on behalf of Mercy Ships UK.

In September, I received another email from Ewing advising that the 'House to House Collections Act 1939' was administered by the Metropolitan Police with a link to their website.

A Google search suggests these companies are merely making profits for themselves - not for charities - and they are collecting right across the UK. I had hoped Ewing might check with his colleagues in Bexley Borough to see if a licence was issued and, if not, pass the matter to someone who was actually interested in crime prevention. But it seems our council taxes are wasted on people who cannot be bothered even when they are notified that a crime is being committed right in front of their noses.

In the final analysis, it seems Trading Standards and the Metropolitan Police are not really interested in crime prevention and are both a complete waste of space!



"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill


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