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Breakthrough Breast Cancer (charity)

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Breakthrough Breast Cancer - charity logo (courtesy of the charity)

The charity

"Breakthrough" is The UK's largest breast cancer charity.
Website: www.breakthrough.org.uk  

Fake clothing collections - August 2010

Fraudulent clothing collectors in Kent and Essex distributed fake leaflets claiming they were collecting on behalf of Breakthrough.  They were using the name "Clothman Ltd" on the leaflets - a company which was dissolved in April 2010.

Investigations were carried out by trading standards and the police.
The BBC reported on the story.

Council Licensing:  Unfortunately there was no mention of any involvement by council licensing departments.  A representative of the charity reported that one licensing department in Kent refused to accept that it has enforcement powers under the 1939 Act - so they said they couldn't take any action against the collectors.  The council is incorrect - they do have enforcement powers.

See :

Legal issues - the offences

In our view, the offences committed by the collectors were as follows :

  1. Conducting unlicensed charitable house-to-house collections
    Law: House to House Collections Act 1939
    Regulator: Local council licensing departments
  2. Fraud
    Law: Fraud Act
    Regulators: Police and council trading standards
  3. Fraud etc
    Law: Consumer Protection Regulations (CPRs) 2008
    Regulator: Council trading standards
  4. Purporting to represent a company (Clothman Ltd) that no longer existed (it had been dissolved)
    Law: Companies Acts?

See the drop-down menus for pages giving details of these laws.

Also, as the advertising (the leaflets/bags) was blatantly misleading, undoubtedly the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) would have upheld a complaint.

Article on BBC News website - dated 19 Aug 2010

BBC logo (our thanks to the BBC and Wikipedia)

Article headed :
Secret filming exposes Kent bogus clothing collectors  

It includes a 2½-minute video clip from BBC South East - secret filming of the bogus collectors.

Copy of the article :

"Bogus clothing collectors in Kent are falsely claiming to be raising cash for the UK's biggest breast cancer charity, an investigation has revealed.

The BBC secretly filmed the group making collections, and went on to discover that no funds had been given to Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The footage was shown to Breakthrough, which said the bogus collectors were stealing from the charity.

All the evidence from the investigation is being passed to the police.

In the covert footage, a man who called himself Zydronas said he worked for a charity in London but admitted all the collected goods were taken to Lithuania.  He could not provide an address for his alleged employer.

'Organised crime'

An internet search revealed that a mobile phone number he provided for his alleged employer was linked to several online adverts in Lithuanian, all seeking clothing collectors.

After seeing the footage, Phil Wilson, from Breakthrough, said: "People are thinking they're giving money, or clothes that are going to be turned into money, on behalf of Breakthrough, and it's not, so it's theft.

"The fact that people are stealing directly from a charity is disgusting."

The leaflets used by the bogus collectors show the breast cancer pink ribbon logo and claim to be collecting on behalf of Breakthrough.

Surrey County Council said similar leaflets had also been hand delivered to homes in Banstead.

David Moir, from the Association of Charity Shops, said: "There are more and more legitimate textile merchants who have a perfect legal right to collect textiles and sell them on, but there are also out-and-out thieves.

"We believe there's evidence to suggest some of them are parts of organised crime networks."

Commercial clothing collectors who operate under a council licence and make a donation to charity donate between £50 to £100 for every tonne they collect.

A tonne of second-hand clothing can fetch up to £700.

Clothes Aid, which collects across the UK on behalf of charities and complies with Charity Commission regulations, has said it fears that fraudsters are depriving genuine charities across the UK of up to £14m a year."

[Our thanks to the BBC.  Highlighting of organisations added by CharityBags.]

Cancer research by Breakthrough Breast Cancer

BBC News - 14 July 2010 - article on the results of cancer research sponsored by Breakthrough (and the Scottish Funding Council) :


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