Dogs for the Disabled in collection box scam

Dogs for the Disabled has fallen victim to a charity collection box scam that police say may have earned Kent fraudsters thousands of pounds over three or four years.

The Banbury-based charity contacted Kent police when a member of the public alerted it to a suspicious sweet box bearing its name in a Canterbury shop. The charity does not use collection boxes for its fundraising, which last year totalled £1.8m.

So far, 170 businesses have withdrawn bogus charity boxes bearing an obsolete registration number for the charity.

Sarah Watson, a spokeswoman for Dogs for the Disabled, said the fraud had “damaged public trust” in the charity, which depends wholly on gifts to fund its work.

Kent Police have arrested three people in connection with the fraud, which they have described as a “lifestyle choice – a means of earning a good living at the expense of local charities”.

One local business, car dealership Barretts of Canterbury, has said it will vet all future fundraisers that approach its 14 branches in Canterbury and Ashford in light of the scam.

“It’s really disappointing, but we can no longer trust people walking in off the street," said Paul Barrett, the company’s managing director.

"But we’ll coordinate our collections so some good will come of it,” he added.

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