Man pleads guilty to bogus charity bag offences

Defendant fined after distributing bogus bags in Devon for a company called Supporting Arms Ltd

Bogus charity bags can be confused with genuine ones (above)
Bogus charity bags can be confused with genuine ones (above)

A man convicted of offences relating to bogus charity clothing collections in Devon has been fined £200 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs.

Kostas Mesletys, 28, from Newport, south Wales, pleaded guilty at Plymouth Magistrates' Court on 21 February to two offences of misleading actions under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 Act.

The offences related to distributing bags through letterboxes in 2009. He was fined £100 for each offence and told to pay £1,000 in costs.

The bags, produced by a company called Supporting Arms Ltd, showed a pair of hands cradling a globe centred on Africa and said: 'Please help those who really need your support'.

The court heard that Mesletys used casual employees to distribute the bags through letterboxes of houses in Modbury and other towns and villages in South Hams, Devon.

A statement from Devon Trading Standards said: "Some householders thought that their unwanted items were going to a charity and to help others, but in practice, all the evidence points to an entirely commercial chain of supply, with the collected items being put into commercial recycling and sorting systems."

Supporting Arms Ltd was also charged with offences, but the company is now dissolved.

A spokeswoman for the Fundraising Standards Board said it was pleased to see a successful prosecution.

"Bogus clothing collections is an area we are very concerned about. Rogue operators are increasingly damaging public perception and trust of a valuable fundraising mechanism for many charities," she said.

"We are currently working proactively with Trading Standards on a new initiative to aid both Trading Standards officers and police officers to secure more convictions."

Michael Lomotey, business manager at the collections company Clothes Aid, said it was fantastic that bogus collectors were facing higher sentencing.

"For too long these organised criminals have been able to operate above the law, capitalising on the nation's generosity," he said.

"We hope that with more prosecutions and heavier sentencing, those involved in so-called bogus operations will realise their days are numbered."


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