Two men have been arrested by Greater Manchester Police as part of an investigation into a fraud involving fake charity wristbands.
The scam relates to Social Alert Me, a community interest company based in Wigan that uses social media to send out alerts about missing people.
GMP said that between September and December 2013, SAM’s wristbands were partly copied, then sold to the public to raise funds, but the money was never deposited in the CIC’s bank accounts.
The genuine wristbands include the CIC’s website address and the hashtag #SAMAlert; the fake wristbands have "Help Missing Children" printed on them.
Police have warned the public to be on their guard and asked anyone who thinks they have mistakenly bought a fake wristband to contact them.
Two men, aged 31 and 32, have been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and have been bailed by police pending further inquiries.
"It is believed that up to 5,000 fake charity wristbands have been produced and sold to unsuspecting members of the public," said Detective Constable Chris Clarke of GMP. "Social Alert Me is a small charity but a genuine organisation that aims to get information about missing people out quickly on social media. If anyone wants to buy a genuine SAM wristband, they can do so through the link on the charity’s Twitter account."
A statement on the CIC’s website said it had been the victim of fraud and that the fake wristbands had been sold all over north-west England, including in Preston and Blackpool.
"If you bought one of these wristbands, please contact the police so we can bring these people to justice," the statement said.