A MAN who posed as a Cancer Research UK collector has been jailed for pocketing supporters’ donations.
Jason Jones, 29, went out officially collecting in Bournemouth and Christchurch with the charity’s branded collection pots, badges and sashes to ask shoppers and passersby to give generously to the good cause.
But the fraudster was really keeping the cash for himself and never gave Cancer Research a penny, potentially robbing the charity of up to £1,000 a week.
A girl Jones was dating joined him shaking collection tins, unaware he was stealing the funds, and he would even take money from friends and revellers on nights out in town. Magistrates sentenced Jones, who was found guilty of theft and fraud at trial, to 24 weeks in prison.
Cancer Research UK sent Jones five collection ‘goblets’, stickers, sashes and 100 badges last October after he registered as a collector online, Prosecutor Lisa Dytham said.
He stood collecting at different locations in Bournemouth, including outside ASDA, Christchurch and at a Southampton football club game.
It was then that the girl he was dating saw him shove £30 from the tins in his jeans.
Area co-ordinator Ros Fry was alerted, and contacted Jones several times to ask him to cough up.
Mrs Dytham said: “A volunteer collector within the Bournemouth area can collect £1,000 a week from donations off the street from members of the public with one goblet.
“Jones had five. Realistically it is hard to pinpoint what he took, but we have to be aware of what potentially Cancer Research UK were deprived of.”
Mitigating, Mark Proctor said Jones had been motivated by an addiction to controlled drugs and moved back to his parents’ Bicester home after being caught last December.
Bench chairman Doug Day said Jones’ serious crimes had breached the trust of the charity and everyone who had parted with their change.
Mr Day said: “People put their hands in their pockets and took out money they earned by honest means to give to what they saw as a worthwhile charity.
“An aggravating factor is that you enlisted the help of a young lady and she too was collecting spuriously at Southampton Football Club, unaware that she was really involved in defrauding a crowd of proper fans.
“This is something that the public will find abhorrent.”
Police Sergeant Mark Scammell, from Christchurch, dealt with the case.
He said: “I do not want this to detract from people donating to street collectors who are volunteering their own time and are out doing good work.”
He added: “If anyone is thinking of stealing in this way, the consequences are quite obvious to tell from Jones’ jail term.”
CANCER research volunteers said cases of theft affect all charities.
Ros Fry, area volunteer manager for Dorset, said: “Cancer Research UK
relies heavily on the goodwill of members of the public to fund life-saving work in Dorset and all over the UK.
“Incidents like this are damaging to not only ourselves, but also every other charity, and reduces the trust and confidence that supporters have.
“We need the support of the general public more than ever to
continue our pioneering work.
“While extremely rare, instances of bogus fundraising do occur and charities take steps to reduce this, although we do rely on members of the public to alert the police toany suspicious fundraising activity.
“More than 60 individuals or groups are currently engaged in a variety of voluntary fundraising activities for Cancer Research UK in the Dorset area.
“The charity’s ground-breaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and
treatment of cancer is funded entirely by the public and so money raised is crucial to fund research into 200 types of cancer which affect almost
30,000 people in the South West every year."
THE Fundraising Standards Boards gave the following recommendations for
those who donate to charity: Are the collectors wearing proper identity badges?
Do they seem knowledgeable enough about their charity and its work? If
you’re still unsure, call the charity or contact Action Fraud on 0300 1232040.