A CONMAN who flooded the area with bogus charity clothing collection bags has been fined £1,500.
Evaldas Guoga misled residents into thinking their donations would benefit the air ambulance but he was simply operating a money making scam for his own benefit, a court heard.
He was caught when Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards Officers, working with Warwickshire Police, stopped his collection van and seized bogus bags and donated clothing.
Guoga had also been operating the same scam in Norfolk and Nottinghamshire, and it was Norfolk Trading Standards who handled the prosecution for all three counties.
And at Norwich Magistrates Court, Guoga, from Birmingham, pleaded guilty to three consumer protection regulation offences, and was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £120 victim surcharge.
The court heard Guoga set up a limited company called E&N Textiles in December 2010 and a website airambulanceservice.org.uk, which had no connection to any legitimate air ambulance organisations.
He had a large number of clothing collection bags printed with the words ‘Air Ambulance’, ‘Urgent’ and ‘Clothing Collection’ in large letters and a reference in very small print to the name of his company.
Coun Les Caborn, the council’s community safety spokesman, said: “This particular scam did untold damage to the ability of genuine charities to raise money and I am delighted, not only that the perpetrator of this crime was stopped and thousands of his bogus bags seized, but that he was subsequently successfully prosecuted.”
The prosecution was welcomed by Justin Thompson, head of recycling at The Air Ambulance Service which operates the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, and
The Children’s Air Ambulance, said: “Organisations purporting to be an air ambulance can damage our reputation.
“Often these bogus collectors do not follow correct procedures which leads to donor distrust, as well as the obvious moral issues in allowing people to think they are giving to a charity when in fact they are not.
“The Air Ambulance Service receives no Government funding and relies solely on public donations to keep its services running.
“The income from recycling at the doorstep is vital to this. We would like to thank our supporters for their kind and continued donations throughout each year, and we are grateful for our supporters’ vigilance in reporting people they feel are not representing our charity correctly.
“Our recycling services can be found under the recycling section of our website, which contains pictures of our recycling bags so supporters can see if the bag they have received is genuine. Please visit theairambulanceservice.org.uk/get-involved/recycling for more information.”
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