Five bogus charity collectors have been jailed after they collected tens of thousands of pounds for Marie Curie Cancer Care but did not donate the money to the charity.
Gordon Coe, Pauline Hunt, Susan Christians and married couple Kim and Benjamin Chapman were sentenced at Southampton Crown Court for falsely using Marie Curie Cancer Care collection boxes to raise money for their own personal gain.
Coe was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment; the other gang members were imprisoned for terms ranging from 12 to 20 months.
It is not known exactly how much the gang stole. However, according to the Daily Mail, prosecutor Nicholas Tucker estimated that they collected more than £26,000, based on 260 trips yielding an average of £100 each. A total of more than £40,000 that could not be accounted for was found in their bank accounts.
The gang is believed to have toured pubs and clubs across the south of England with fake charity tins and ID badges.
After an 18-month investigation by Hampshire police, the group was convicted in February of defrauding the charity. Detective Constable Giulio Pizzo, the officer working on the case, welcomed the guilty verdicts.
He said: "This is good news for the charity. I hope the convictions will deter people who might try the same deceptions, but it is truly unfortunate that this sort of crime not only deprives genuine charities of much-needed funds, but also generates mistrust among the public towards real charity collectors."
A spokesman for Marie Curie Cancer Care said: "We welcome the verdict that’s been reached. We would like to reassure people that this type of incident is extremely rare and we shouldn’t let one bad apple give legitimate charity collectors a bad name. The vast majority of collectors are trustworthy and dedicated – as a charity, we couldn’t raise the vital funds we need without them."