A man who organised a string of bogus charity collections at railway stations across England has been jailed for 13 months.
Roy Bardy, 48, from Dagenham in Essex, was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court yesterday after previously pleading guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation.
He recruited volunteers and employees to stand at stations in Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, London and Merseyside, to collect money for local charities over a three-year period, the court heard.
A spokesman for British Transport Police said officers were unable to say how much Bardy had fraudulently taken.
BTP said commuters complained of suspicious behaviour by Bardy and his collectors at several stations.
He was arrested in November 2010. When police searched his office and home they found evidence that he had been approaching charities, offering to fundraise for them and recruit teams to collect donations at stations. Paperwork and fancy dress costumes to grab the attention of passers-by were found at his property, police said.
BTP said officers found evidence of 81 incidents where collections on behalf of two charities took place, or were planned. None of the charities he claimed to be collecting for were named by the BTP.
Some of the collections might have been legitimate, police said, but Bardy admitted keeping some of the money collected.
He gained the trust of charities and contacted train operators to gain authorised access to stations. His collectors had the correct ID and letters from charities, but were completely unaware of Bardy’s intentions to defraud the charities.
At sentencing Judge Henry Blacksell said he was a "manipulator and a dishonest man".
"You made multiple fraudulent, deceiving transactions over the years. It was a breach of trust and a representation which causes people to suffer," he said.
Detective Constable Mike Ganly, who investigated the case, said after the hearing: "This is a sad case that has seen commuters’ kind generosity and donations to charities unknowingly taken and pocketed by Bardy.
"He is a callous thief and his actions, diverting money away from charities which rely on donations to fund their good work, has resulted in those good causes suffering financial losses."