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Newspaper articles, websites etc commenting on
'Air Ambulance Service' (AAS) and
'Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd' (AASTC)

Related pages (including this page)

Introduction - explanatory notes

The good news

There are around 20 local air ambulance service charities in the UK.
They're entirely genuine and free of controversy.
For further details, see the website of the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) :

. . . and the bad news

The page you're now looking at deals with a widespread scam operated by two commercial companies called :

Image above:  The top of a misleading clothing collection leaflet from AAS / AASTC

What's on this page?

The items on this page include newspaper articles, BBC news programmes, websites, blogs and forums.  In the old days it would have been called an "annotated bibliography".

What's the order of items?

In general, the items are arranged as follows :

Map of the UK - courtesy of Wikipedia

Where are AAS / AASTC collecting clothes?

Below is a summary of the areas in which their agents have collected so far (as at August 2010), based on information given in the newspaper articles :

Note - For clarity, we've added bold to a few key words and phrases in some of the extracts taken from articles (eg the names of organisations and places).

Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA) area

Source:      Leicester Mercury
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         14 June 2010
Headed:     "Beware of this charity scam"


Criticises "Air Ambulance Supporters Scheme".  This article appears to be on AAS.

Including their premium rate £1.50/minute phone numbers.  Concerns expressed by DLRAA

Source:      Ripley & Heanor News [Derbyshire]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         16 June 2010
Headed:     "Look out for charity scam"


This article appears to be on AAS.
Critical comments from Derbyshire Air Ambulance (DLRAA). 
Trading standards are investigating.

Source:      Burton Mail [Staffordshire]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         23 June 2010
Headed:     "Widow weeps over bogus air ambulance cash plea"


Article deals with "Air Ambulance Service" (AAS)

Extract (with thanks to the Burton Mail) :

Source:      Leicester Mercury
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         24 June 2010
Headed:     "Investigation into charity collections" - on AAS


Comments by Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance (DLRAA)

Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA) area

Source:      Birmingham Post [West Midlands]
Category:  Local newspaper - letter to the editor, from MAA (charity)
Date:         1 July 2010
Headed:     "Donation to right charity" - on AAS


Source:      Birmingham Mail
Category:  Local newspaper - "Top stories" section
Date:         8 July 2010
Headed:     "A clothes collection company is trying to pass itself off as the Midlands Air Ambulance charity" - on AAS


BBC logo

Source:      BBC News [local]
Category:  Broadcaster
Date:         13 July 2010
Headed:     "Midlands Air Ambulance warns of fake 'charity' leaflets - on AAS


"A private company is targeting homes for clothing donations, passing itself off as a charity, Midlands Air Ambulance has warned."

Source:      Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA) (charity)
Category:  Charity
Date:         24 July 2010

(a) Below - screen grab of a prominent warning on their homepage :

'Beware bogus charity collectors' - warning on Midlands Air Ambulance charity website - concerning 'Air Ambulance Service' (AAS)

(b) The "read more >>" link in the warning above leads to an article headed :



Extract:  "We would advise you to note their details if available and report their visit to your local Trading Standards office and police.  There is an ongoing investigation by authorities into Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd and your information maybe vital in stopping their activity."

The article includes a good photo of an AAS collection leaflet - with a yellow helicopter and a tear-off slip headed "membership card", with premium-rate telephone numbers.

Source:      Stourbridge News [West Midlands]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         29 July 2010
Headed:     "Bogus charity collectors prompt doorstep warning" - on AAS


Warning from Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA) *

Source:      Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council [West Midlands]
Category:  Local council
Date:         29 July 2010
Headed:     "Warning on bogus charity collectors" - on AAS


"Householders across Dudley borough are being warned about a bogus charity carrying out door to door collections in the area."

Source:      Minuteman Press UK [a nationwide chain of print shop franchises]
Category:  Company - article
Date:         5 Aug 2010
Headed:     "Leaflets deceive Birmingham homes" - on AAS


Including criticisms by Midlands Air Ambulance charity (MAA)

Extract (start of article):

"Print companies in South Birmingham may have inadvertently been involved in a private company's fraudulent leafleting campaign to collect clothing donations under the pretence of being a charity."

Worcester News masthead

Source:      Worcester News (WN)
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         Fri 3 June 2011
Headed:     "Bogus charity bag collectors exposed! VIDEO!" - on AAS


"TWO Lithuanian men have been arrested on suspicion of fraud and theft after claiming to be collecting charity bags for the air ambulance.  Your Worcester News captured the moment on camera before police arrived at the scene.

Leaflets and collection bags had been distributed around Kempsey asking people to leave goods by the roadside on Friday morning.  For the full story see tomorrow's Worcester News."

Includes a 3-minute video of the reporter (James Savage) interviewing the collectors, followed by the arrival of a police car.

There's a photo of the red collection van with one of the collectors
(caption: "Bogus Collectors exposed in sting operation - video")

Below the article are numerous comments from readers.

Source:      Worcester News (WN)
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         Sat 4 June 2011
Headed:     "Suspected charity bag thieves caught in act - video"   - on AAS

www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/local/9065903. Suspected_charity_bag_thieves_caught_in_act___video/  

More information on yesterday's story

Includes comments by Midlands Air Ambulance, County Council trading standards and West Mercia police.

Source:      Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA) (charity)
Category:  Charity
Date:         6 June 2011 (update)
Headed:     "Bogus charity bag collectors exposed! VIDEO!" - on AAS


Extracts :

"Bogus charity collectors are once again attempting to deceive you into thinking you are supporting your local air ambulance charity.

The organisation in question uses the misleading name ‘Air Ambulance Service’ and its representatives are handing out leaflets and recycling bags when visiting homes across the region requesting donations of clothing, shoes and handbags which they imply will be recycled to raise funds for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.      . . .

Midlands Air Ambulance Charity wishes to clarify that these collectors are in no way affiliated with the Charity and as far as they can ascertain are unlicensed by any local authority and are clearly misleading the public by their claims and adopted identity.     . . .

To view the full image of the 'Bogus collection' bags click here!


Two people have been arrested and a vehicle has been impounded!!

We can confirm two men have been arrested (one is on bail from Crown Court).  They had the Air Ambulance Service bags (some full) + some others in the van including “Barnodos” bags and include suspicion of fraud and theft (of other charities bags of clothes).  They also had some type of “Save our Soldiers” bags.  The vehicle was confiscated and taken away on a recovery lorry.

To see the video click here!  "    [=link to "Worcester News" website]

Comments by CharityBags on the article above :

Key words/phrases used in this article include :

Regarding the postscript/update, it seems the alleged offences are being dealt with under police powers - fraud and theft in particular.  Note the mention of the Crown Court (not the Magistrates' Court) - this indicates a more serious offence.  There's no mention of council licensing or the 1939 Act.

It's unclear whether the collectors are working on behalf of "Air Ambulance Service" - or whether they're merely opportunist thieves - taking bags belonging to any collection which they find.

Source:      Worcester News (WN) (our thanks to the publisher)
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         Tues 7 June 2011
Headed:     "Shocking - no action against 'ambulance charity' bag men - video"   - on AAS

www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/local/9069148. Shocking___no_action_against__ambulance_charity__bag_men___video/  


"TWO workers from a company which claims it is collecting funds on behalf of the air ambulance have been released without charge after Trading Standards said they were not breaking the law.      . . .

A spokesman from West Mercia Police said they had liaised with Trading Standards officers at Worcestershire County Council who said no further action should be taken.     . . .

People are directed to airambulanceservice.org.uk – which is unavailable and are urged to call or text premium rate phone numbers for membership information.     . . .

Concerned residents in Pershore have contacted the Worcester News about Air Ambulance Service collections taking place in the town tomorrow.    . . . "

Source:      Worcester News (WN) (our thanks to the publisher)
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         Thurs 9 June 2011
Headed:     " ‘Charity bag’ firm to be investigated"   - on AAS


"A COMMERCIAL collection company which claims to raise funds on behalf of the air ambulance is being investigated by Trading Standards, despite the watchdog earlier saying it wasn’t breaking the law.

As previously reported, leaflets and collection bags have been distributed across Worcestershire by Air Ambulance Service, misleading people into handing over goods which they believe will benefit local charities.

Two men were arrested on suspicion of theft and fraud in Kempsey, near Worcester, for collecting bags with Air Ambulance Service printed on them.

They were later released without charge after Trading Standards said they weren’t breaching rules as the small print states they are a profit-making organisation.

However, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (Trading Standards) has now said it is conducting further enquiries into Air Ambulance Service.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has also confirmed it has received complaints about the firm.

In January, the ASA made a ruling against Air Ambulance Service that said their leaflets were misleading and needed to be changed.  The ASA is investigating to see if their ruling has been breached.

Worcestershire Regulatory Services said it is investigating to see if bags found recently in the county are from the same company subjected to the ASA’s ruling.

Research by your Worcester News into Companies House records reveals that Air Ambulance Service was forced to change its name in April.

Its official trading name is now St Anthony (Trading Co) based at an address in Oxfordshire – the same address for the company subjected to the ASA ruling.

A spokesman from Worcestershire Regulatory Services said it would work closely with West Mercia Police.

He said: “Both organisations share intelligence in relation to criminal activity within the Worcestershire area.

“However the organisations are completely independent and will make decisions based on the best evidence available at any point in time, which includes taking a final decision on pursuing criminal prosecution.”

Inspector Janet Heritage, of West Mercia Police, said: “We continue to work closely with Worcestershire Regulatory Services on this and other investigations.

We will investigate any new information thoroughly and will take positive action against any identified offenders.”

• People with concerns about collectors can call Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit consumerdirect.gov.uk"    [bold in article added by CharityBags]

The article above includes a photograph of a collection bag from AAS.

Regulators mentioned in the article:
- Worcestershire trading standards (and Consumer Direct), ASA, Companies House (Cardiff), West Mercia police

Unfortunately, there's no mention of district council licensing departments or the House to House Collections Act 1939.

Source:      Stourbridge News (our thanks to the publisher)
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         14 July 2011
Headed:     "Midlands Air Ambulance reminder on doorstep collections"
                   - on AAS and "Air Ambulance Support"

www.stourbridgenews.co.uk/news/9137621. Midlands_Air_Ambulance_reminder_on_doorstep_collections/  

"MIDLANDS Air Ambulance (MAA) is reminding people planning donations to be sure who is getting the benefit.

The charity’s warning follows the distribution of leaflets in the region from private companies called Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd or Air Ambulance Support Ltd who are collecting items ranging from clothes to mobile phones.

The leaflets, which show a company registration number, carry pictures of helicopters and say donations will fund ground and air ambulance medical transportation.

In a statement, MAA said: “Midlands Air Ambulance wishes to make clear the charity has absolutely no association with either company.  We have not authorised them to collect goods or raise funds and we receive no funding from them.

“Anyone wishing to donate clothing directly to Midlands Air Ambulance should do so only to an authorised Midlands Air Ambulance collector who will be able to show you our registered charity number and official logo.  Alternatively you can contact us directly on 0800 8 40 20 40 or via www.midlandsairambulance.com and we can arrange to collect your donation.”

Source:      Worcester News (WN) (our thanks to the publisher)
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         Mon 18 July 2011
Headed:     "It's time to bag these scammers"   - mainly on AAS



"A WORCESTERSHIRE MP has thrown her weight behind our demands for companies who falsely imply to be collecting on behalf of charities to be prosecuted.

Harriett Baldwin has vowed to work with the authorities to clamp down on the commercial collectors who have been distributing bags across the county.     . . .

Bags are currently being distributed in Worcester from another commercial company which implies it is raising money for victims of the Japan earthquake.

Simon Wilkes, business manager at Worcestershire Regulatory Services, (trading standards) said the wording being used on bags and leaflets is “suitably vague” making it impossible for legal action to be taken.

Mrs Baldwin, MP for West Worcestershire, said: “This is clearly illegal yet I know from colleagues that it is a national problem. I urge Trading Standards and the local police to act.”

Speaking about the Air Ambulance Service collection bags, Mr Wilkes said: “It says they are working towards making contributions to the Air Ambulance.  For that statement to be misleading we would have to prove they weren’t going to contemplate giving money to the charity in the future.      . . .  "

Most of the article deals with comments by (1) the local MP (Harriett Baldwin) and (2) county trading standards.

There is a brief mention of a second misleading collection - one in aid of victims of the Japan earthquake (including a photo of a tantalisingly small part of a collection bag).

Concerning regulators, yet again, there's only mention of trading standards (and the police).
There's no mention of the licensing departments of the district councils or the House to House Collections Act 1939 - we find this extraordinary and disturbing. *

Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) area

Source:      Coventry Telegraph [West Midlands]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         8 June 2010
Headed:     "Warning on fake leaflets scam" - on AAS - see NewsBank website and entry below

Source:      North Warwickshire News
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         8 June 2010
Headed:     "Probe into fake leaflets asking for air ambulance donations" - on AAS


Comments by Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA).
This seems to be the same article as above (it's the same publisher - Coventry Telegraph).

Source:      West Midlands Police [Coventry area]
Category:  Police force - news item
Date:         9 June 2010


Deals with collection leaflets from AAS and AASTC.
Includes comments from Warwickshire Air Ambulance (WAA, charity)

Source:      Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald [Warwickshire]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         10 June 2010


Trading Standards is investigating; WNAA's concerns

Source:      UK Wired News
Category:  Website
Date:         10 June 2010
Headed:     "Investigation Into Charity Clothing Bag Scam" - on AAS


Warwickshire & Northants Air Ambulance (WNAA) are losing out.
Includes response from Trading Standards.
Mentions the use of premium-rate phone numbers by AAS.

Source:      Warwickshire and Northants Air Ambulance charity (WNAA)
Category:  Charity - article
Date:         22 July 2010
Headed:     "Air Ambulance team issue warning over collection bag scam" - on AAS


The article describes AAS/AAS's collections as (inter alia):

"misleading ... a private company ... they appear to deliberately mislead people ... "

The article includes :

Source:      Coventry Telegraph
Category:  Local newspaper - article
Date:         29 July 2010
Author:      Tina Junday
"Probe over Warwickshire leaflet appeal for clothing donations for 'air ambulance' " - on AAS


Comments by the WNAA charity and Oxfordshire Trading Standards

Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulance (EHAA) area

Source:      Essex Air Ambulance
Category:  Charity - article on RHS, middle of page
Date:         Mid-2010
Headed:     "Beware of the bogus callers" - on Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd


Source:      Hertfordshire Air Ambulance
Category:  Charity - homepage - article
Date:         Page as at 20 July 2010
Headed:     "Please be aware!" - on Air Ambulance Service (Trading Co) Ltd


Source:      Essex Air Ambulance
Category:  Charity - website - foot of homepage - article
Date:         Page as at 24 July 2010
Headed:     "Please be aware!" - on AAS


Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) area

Source:      Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA)
Category:  Charity - article
Date:         2 June 2010
Headed:     "Generous Donors Feel Misled" - on AAS


Article criticises AAS

Includes a large, high-quality photo of an AAS leaflet (400 x 600 pixels / 600 x 834 pixels) - with a yellow helicopter and a tear-off slip headed "membership card", with premium-rate telephone numbers

Source:      "The News" [Portsmouth, Hampshire]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         16 June 2010
Headed:     "Trading standards to probe 'misleading' air ambulance appeal" - on AAS


Criticisms by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) - charity

Source:      Eastleigh Borough Council [Hampshire]
Category:  Local council
Date:         17 June 2010
Headed:     "Air Ambulance Scam Warning" - on AAS


Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA) are unhappy.

Includes photo of leaflet - with yellow helicopter and tear-off slip headed "membership card" with premium-rate phone numbers

Image above:  The top of a misleading clothing collection leaflet from AAS / AASTC

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) area

Source:      Bournemouth Echo [Dorset]
Category:  Local newspaper
Date:         23 May 2010
Headed:     "Misplaced generosity of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance donors" - on AAS

www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/8180184.Misplaced_generosity_of Dorset_and_Somerset_Air_Ambulance_donors  

Source:      Taunton People [Taunton, Somerset - Northcliffe Media Ltd]
Category:  Website - article
Date:         10 July 2010
Headed:     "Air Ambulance warns of possible doorstep collection scam"


Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Charity (DSAA) - commenting on AAS.

Includes a photo of a cream-coloured AAS leaflet - with yellow helicopter.
The tear-off slip at the bottom of the leaflet is headed "Receive a token gift".

Source:      Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance charity (DSAA)
Category:  Charity - article
Date:         14 July 2010
Headed:     "IMPORTANT NOTICE! - Air Ambulance warns of possible doorstep collection scam" - on AAS


Includes photo of an AAS leaflet (click it for a larger image).
Tear-off slip at bottom of leaflet is headed "Receive a token gift".

Source:      Weston-super-Mare People [Somerset - Northcliffe Media Ltd]
Category:  Website - article
Date:         19 July 2010
Headed:     "Air Ambulance warns of possible doorstep collection scam"


Warning by the DSAA charity about AAS.

Includes photo of an AAS leaflet.
Tear-off slip at bottom of leaflet is headed "Receive a token gift".


Source:      The Motley Fool Limited (TMF)
Category:  Website - forum
Date:         May 2010
Headed:     "Is this another scam?"


Forum thread on AAS's clothing collections - with 13 posts - 5 to 7 May 2010
Headed:     "Is this another scam?"  Intelligent comments, with research

Source:      Bag It Up [Ltd]
Category:  Clothing collection company's website - blog
Date:         21 March 2010
Headed:     "Air Ambulance Doorstep Collections..." - on AAS


Includes a photograph of one of AAS's collection leaflets.
Blog and 8 comments.

Note:  Link to Bag It Up : www.bagitup.org.uk  

Bag It Up is a reputable clothing collector (based in Halifax).  They collect for genuine air ambulance charities.

Facebook icon

Source:      Facebook - "Support Essex Air Ambulance" page
Category:  Website - Facebook
Date:         12 May 2010
Author:  Entry by Keith Kondakor


The entry states:

"Scum are going round England doing door to door clothing collections under the name Air Ambulance Service.  They have a photo of the Essex air ambulance on their website and leaflets with the name painted out.  These people may be linked to a Richard Sage who ran a number of scams.  I hope someone can stop these people who are diverting money from proper charities like yours."

[Note:  So far, it seems there's no evidence that AAS are linked to Richard Sage]

Includes photo of an AAS leaflet - with a yellow emergency helicopter and a tear-off slip headed "Receive a token gift"


BBC logo

Source:      BBC
Category:  Broadcaster - article
Date:         11 May 2009
Headed:     "Advice lines that exploit callers"


BBC TV Watchdog report criticising Digital Select Limited (run by Shaun Freeman)

The company's website: www.digital-select.com/Default.aspx  
- offices at 271 Regent Street, London W1B 2ES

This seems to be the telecoms company used by AAS for their premium-rate telephone and text numbers.  See the details at the bottom of AAS's clothing leaflets.