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Clothing collections :
'Gloucestershire & Worcestershire Air Ambulance' [G & W] scam

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Introduction - 'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance'

Below:  Bogus collection bag (front)
Hover mouse over image to see back

 
  'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance' scam - clothing collection bag (front)

Below:  Bogus collection bag (back)
Hover mouse over image to see back

 
  'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance' scam - clothing collection bag (back)

Abbreviation - "G & W"

"Gloucestershire & Worcestershire Air Ambulance" is a lengthy name.  The collectors don't use any abbreviation on their bags. However, we've concocted the abbreviation "G & W" to make it easy to refer to them on this page.

Don't confuse their name or abbreviation with those of genuine air ambulance charities - eg GWAAC and WNAA (details below).

How to stop the collections . . .

BEWARE - There is no genuine air ambulance organisation with this name ("Gloucestershire and Worcestershire").
All collection bags with the name of this organisation are 'fakes'.
The collections are illegal and fraudulent.
The collectors can be arrested by the police.
They can be prosecuted by the police, council licensing and council trading standards.

Prosecutions can be brought using :

See the homepage of our website for action you can take to stop the collectors
- see the panel near the top (with a pink background) - headed :
"How to stop a bogus collection . . ."

You need to act IMMEDIATELY - within hours of receiving a bag.

You need to :

Also see related pages :

So what's going on?

These collections started in mid-March 2012.

The bags give a registered charity number: 1098874.
However, this is the registered charity number for Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance charity (WNAA).  WNAA is a genuine charity.  They have no connection with the people distributing these bags.

The collector:  The bags allege that the clothing is being collected by DB Collections Ltd.
However, this information is incorrect.  DB Collections have no involvement in this scam - their name is being used on the bags without their permission.  DB Collections are a reputable collector - for example they're the official clothing collectors for the WNAA charity (see below).

The bogus bags state that "In excess of £4,000 is donated to WNAA each month".
You'd expect the bag to refer to "GWAA" or similar - so why does it say "WNAA"?  "WNAA" is the official abbreviation for Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance charity.  WNAA is a well-respected, genuine charity.  (Note: The county of Warwickshire is immediately to the East of Worcestershire.)

The explanation for all this is as follows.  It appears that the scam collectors copied the wording off a genuine WNAA clothing collection bag.  They left unaltered the references to WNAA and DB Collections.

This is confirmed by information on the website of WNAA   (at March 2012) as follows :

Home > How you can help > Other ways to help
 
"Other ways to help
 
DB Collections have been collecting clothing and other household items for several years on behalf of WNAA, who receives in excess of £4000 per month.
 
They can be contacted as follows:
 
DB Collections
Unit 9, The Constellations
Orion Way
Kettering
NN15 6NL
Tel: 01536 480007"

You can see there's a reference to (a) £4000 per month and (b) DB Collections.  Also this would explain why the registered charity number quoted belongs to WNAA.

Comments on the wording of the "G & W" bags

The genuine local AA charities :
- Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC)
- Midlands Air Ambulance charity (MAA)

The name of the bogus collectors ("Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance") implies they cover the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire areas.

However, the genuine air ambulance charities which cover the Gloucestershire area are Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC)   and
Midlands Air Ambulance charity (MAA)  

The genuine air ambulance charity which covers the Worcestershire area is Midlands Air Ambulance charity (MAA)  
Their official house-to-house clothing collector is LCRSL.

"GWAA" - The initials of the name used by the bogus collectors are "GWAA".  These initials are the same as those of Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAA or GWAAC).  We wonder if this is deliberate.  However (so far) the bogus collectors don't seem to be exploiting this - there's no abbreviation on their bags.

Who's losing out? - the victims

Who are the collectors?  Who printed the bags?

Probably we won't know who's behind the collections until one of the regulators succeeds in intercepting a collection when it's taking place.

There's also the issue of the fraudulent collection bags - who printed them?
It's possible they could be prosecuted for their part in the scam.

Articles on the "G & W" collections

'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance' scam - clothing collection bag (courtesy of www.worcesterstjohnsnhw.co.uk)
Our thanks to www.worcesterstjohnsnhw.co.uk
Click on the image to ENLARGE it
(opens in a new window)

1. Worcester St John's Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) - website

www.worcesterstjohnsnhw.co.uk/ page6.htm  

=Article (dated 23 March 2012) headed:
"Worcestershire Regulatory Services is warning local residents not to be duped by fake Air Ambulance clothing collection bags"
Note: "Worcestershire Regulatory Services" here means trading standards.
This includes an image of a collection bag.

Extract from the article:
 
". . . The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity [MAA] is the only charity responsible for funding the air ambulances that serve the Worcestershire area.
 
Anyone who is concerned about an Air Ambulance charity bag they have received can check if the bag is genuine by calling Midlands Air Ambulance on 0800 8402040.
 
Any suspicious charity bags can also be reported to Consumer Direct on 0845 4 04 05 06."

'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance' scam - clothing collection bag (courtesy of www.freeradio.co.uk)
Our thanks to freeradio.co.uk

2. 'Free Radio' - website - freeradio.co.uk

www.freeradio.co.uk/news/uncategorized/fake-charity-warning/  

=Article (dated 29 March 2012) headed: "Fake Charity Warning"
This includes an image of a collection bag.
The image is a cropped, reduced-size version of the image on the Worcester St Johns NHW website (see above).

3. BBC News - website

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17552887  

BBC logo 200w

=Article (dated 29 March 2012) headed:
"Midlands Air Ambulance warns about bogus collectors:

Extracts (our thanks to the BBC):

"Donations to Midlands Air Ambulance have "slowed down dramatically" in the past two years due to bogus collectors, the charity has said.

Bogus asking for clothing donations have been delivered in Halesowen, Redditch and Worcester in the past few days, it said.

The bags suggest the proceeds will go to the Air Ambulance Service but were not sent out by the charity.   . . .

Trading Standards in Worcestershire said it was aware of the bags being delivered and it was investigating the matter."

4. The Kidderminster Shuttle [Worcestershire]

www.kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/news/... People_warned_to_beware_of_fake...bags  

=Article (dated 31 March 2012) headed:
"People warned to beware of fake clothing collection bags"
Warning from Worcestershire Regulatory Services (Trading Standards).
Residents are advised to phone Midlands Air Ambulance (MAA) or Consumer Direct.

5. West Mercia Police - website

www.westmercia.police.uk/news/news-articles/residents-warned-in-worcestershire-after-fake-charity-bags-seized.html  

=News article (dated 5 April 2012) headed:
"Residents Warned in Worcestershire After Fake Charity Bags Seized" :

"Police are warning people in Worcestershire to be extra vigilant after they recovered hundreds of fake charity clothes collection bags.

The bags, which are delivered to homes so people can fill them with unwanted clothes, shoes and household items, claimed to be raising money for the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance: this body doesn't exist.

The Air Ambulance for Gloucestershire is the Great Western Air Ambulance [GWAAC] and Worcestershire is covered by the Midlands Air Ambulance [MAA].

A West Mercia Police Spokesman said: "Maps recovered from the vehicle suggest that these bags had been distributed in Evesham, Pershore, Worcester and Stourport.

"I suggest residents from those areas take care with any bags left at their homes.  If you want your donations to go to the right place then please take the time to double check and if you are in any doubt then contact the charity directly, which will be able to confirm if the bags are genuine."

Following a stop-check of a car in Worcester on Sunday (1 April), two men aged 27 and 37 were arrested on suspicion of fraud in a joint operation by West Mercia Police and Gloucestershire Constabulary.  They have both been released on police bail pending further inquiries by Gloucestershire Constabulary."

[Our thanks to West Mercia Police.   Bold above added by CharityBags]

6. Gloucestershire Constabulary - website

www.gloucestershire.police.uk/Latest%20News/Press%20Releases/2012/April/item31842.html  

=News article (dated 5 April 2012) headed:
"Warning of Bogus Charity Bags as Two Arrested" :

"Police are warning people to be extra vigilant after they recovered hundreds of fake charity bags.
 
The bags, which are delivered to homes so people can fill them with unwanted clothes, shoes and household items, claimed to be raising money for Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance, a charity that doesn't exist.
 
The Air Ambulance for Gloucestershire is called Great Western Air Ambulance and for Worcestershire it is called Midlands Air Ambulance.
 
Crime Reduction Officer Paul Francis said: "If you want your donations to go to the right place then please take the time to double check.  If you are in any doubt then contact the charity directly who will be able to confirm if the bags are genuine, or better still take your donation directly to a charity shop."
 
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of fraud.  A 27 year old man from Gloucester and a 37 year old man from Gloucester have been released on police bail pending further enquiries until June.  They were arrested over the weekend (March 31 and April 1) in Worcester.
 
For further crime reduction advice please visit our website at www.gloucestershire.police.uk and go to the crime reduction pages or call 101 and ask to speak to your local policing team."
 
[Our thanks to Gloucestershire Constabulary.   Bold above added by CharityBags]

7. Gloucestershire Echo - website

www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/arrested-police-warn-false-charity/story-15736049-detail/story.html  

=article (dated 6 April 2012) headed:
"Two arrested as police warn over false charity" :

"TWO men have been arrested after fake charity bags were left outside the doors of homes in Gloucestershire.
 
Police are warning people to be extra vigilant after they recovered hundreds of the fake bags.
 
The bags, which are delivered to homes so people can fill them with unwanted clothes, shoes and household items, claimed to be raising money for Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance – a charity that doesn't exist.
 
The Air Ambulance for Gloucestershire is called Great Western Air Ambulance and for Worcestershire it is Midlands Air Ambulance.
 
Gloucestershire Constabulary's crime reduction officer Paul Francis said: "If you want your donations to go to the right place then please take the time to double check.  If you are in any doubt, then contact the charity directly who will be able to confirm if the bags are genuine.
 
"Better still, take your donation directly to a charity shop."
 
The two men were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation.
 
A 27-year-old man from Gloucester was arrested in Worcester and a 37-year-old, also from Gloucester, was arrested in the city.  They have been released on police bail until June, pending further enquiries.
 
For further crime reduction advice, visit www.gloucestershire.police. uk and go to the crime reduction pages or call 101 and ask to speak to your local policing team."
 
[Our thanks to the newspaper and Northcliffe Media Limited.
Bold above added by CharityBags]

More images of the "G & W" collection bags

Below: Front and back of their collection bag
(our thanks to PH of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) :

'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance' scam - clothing collection bag (front)    'Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance' scam - clothing collection bag (back)

A typed copy of the text on the collection bags

Below is a typed copy of the wording on the front and back of the bag shown above.
It's searchable, editable ASCII text, verbatim.  Items marked thus [. . .] have been omitted.
We've marked up the names, contact details etc in red :

HELP
TURN YOUR UNWANTED CLOTHES INTO
VALUABLE FLYING TIME

 
Local Air Ambulance
Registered Charity: 1098874`
 
For bag collection information
Tel: 07979805393
Office hours: 9 am - 5.30 pm Mon - Fri
 
Clothing collected by D B Collections Ltd will be sold to benefit
Gloucestershire & Worcestershire Air Ambulance
In excess of £4,000 is donated to WNAA each month
 
URGENTLY NEEDED
 
Good quality adults and children clean clothing
Linen *Curtains *As new underwear, socks and tights
*Shoes *Belts *Handbags *Soft Toys
Please NO electrical items, books or bric-a-brac
 
IF YOU CAN HELP PLEASE TRY TO FILL A BAG(S) AND LEAVE IT
OUTSIDE CLEARLY VISIBLE FROM THE ROAD, AS THIS MAKES IT
EASIER FOR US TO COLLECT THEM
 
All our collectors carry an identity card.
Please ask to see if you are unsure.
 
If you cannot use this bag, please store it and use the next
time around. Thanks.
 
WE WILL COLLECT WHATEVER THE WEATHER
BETWEEN 8am & 6pm ON:
 
| MONDAY | TUESDAY | WEDNESDAY | THURSDAY | FRIDAY | SATURDAY |
 
Thank you for your continued support
Our drivers are not authorized to accept cash
 
_____________________________________________________
 
 
Back of the bag :
 
Local Air Ambulance
 
Help us save lives
 
The need for Speed
If you are in an accident, there is an increased chance of survival if
you reach a specialist
trauma centre within the first 60 minutes, known as the Golden Hour.
 
* We are airborne within 45 seconds
* We can reach anywhere in Gloucestershire within 9 minutes
* We can reach anywhere in Worcestershire within 15 minutes
 
Top Team
Our Life Supporters local people who contribute to the charity are
the most important members of our team and this support is critical
to the continuation of the Air Ambulance.
[. . .]
 
Fast Facts
[. . .]
 
Why We need Your Help
[. . .]
 
How You Can Help
 
Contact us for more information on:
[. . .]

We have saved hundreds of lives - we need your help to save more
 
HELP US TODAY!

 
Please contact the fundraising team who will be pleased to discuss
the different ways you can help support your Air Ambulance

Comparisons with other air ambulance scams - legal issues

There are many similarities between these bogus "Gloucestershire and Worcestershire AA" clothing collections and previous air ambulance scams. 
However, there are some crucial differences.  Below is a table comparing them.

One crucial difference is as follows :

So (once the "Gloucestershire and Worcestershire AA" collectors are caught) it's easy to prosecute them (whether it's the police, trading standards and/or licensing).  Any prosecution is an 'open-and-shut' case.  (It was more difficult with AAS/AASTC and AASCIC.)

In the table below, we've concentrated on the legal issues - affecting enforcement.
 

  Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Air Ambulance (G & W) 'Air Ambulance Service'
(AAS, AASTC & St Anthony) and
 
Air Ambulance Support CIC (AASCIC)
Date started Mid March 2012 AAS/AASTC: early 2010
 
AASCIC:        mid 2010
Status Fictitious organisation Real organisations (all were companies registered with Companies House, Cardiff)
Are the people organising/promoting the collections known? No Yes (the company directors)
Nationality ? AAS/AASTC: British
 
AASCIC: Lithuanian
Address The two people arrested on 1st April came from Gloucester AAS/AASTC: Bicester (Oxfordshire)
 
AASCIC: Birmingham (W Midlands)
Current position Active All three companies were closed down (in the High Court, London) on 2nd Nov 2011
Do they say they're linked to a company? Yes: DB Collections Ltd AAS/AASTC: Yes:
- initially AASTC
- later E&N Textiles Ltd
 
AASCIC:
- initially none
- later Air Ambulance Recycling Ltd
Type of name Specific Generic, ambiguous, vague
Geographical area Local - Gloucestershire and Worcestershire only National - all of England
Do they use leaflets or bags? Bags Leaflets
Images used Drawings of AA helicopters AAS/AASTC:
- initially drawings of helicopters and a photo of an AA helicopter
- later drawings of helicopters and a photo of a fixed-wing jet
 
AASCIC: Drawings of helicopters
Do they say they're a charity? Yes No
Do they give a registered charity number? Yes No
Do they give a postal address? No AAS/AASTC:
- initially yes (28 Bernwood Road)
- later no
 
AASCIC: no
Do they give a telephone number? Yes: mobile Yes: landline: 0845, 0844, 0907 (premium rate),
mobile, text
Do they give a website? No AAS/AASTC: yes
 
AASCIC: yes
Do their collections need a licence? (under the 1939 Act) Yes:
They're for a 'charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purpose'
- it's explicit
Yes:
They're for a
'charitable, benevolent or philanthropic purpose'
 
AAS/AASTC:
- it's implied (but not stated)
 
AASCIC: it's explicit
Have they ever obtained collection licences from councils (under the 1939 Act)? No No
Are their collections illegal (under the 1939 Act)? Yes AAS/AASTC: Yes (on balance)
 
AASCIC: Yes
Are their collections fraudulent (eg under the Fraud Act 2006)? Yes AAS/AASTC: Yes (on balance)
 
AASCIC: Yes
Legal issues:
Are they 'clear cut'?
Yes:
100% fraud/deception
AAS/AASTC:
No: open to interpretation

AASCIC: Yes
Enforcement (as at 7th April 2012) So far:
2 arrests on 1 April (police)
No prosecutions
Several successful prosecutions eg by Kirklees Council (W Yorks)
- see List of prosecutions page

 
Note
- There are some more differences (mostly minor) between AAS/AASTC and AASCIC.  However, for simplicity, we've not shown these in the table above.

Related pages on air ambulance clothing collections

Related pages on collection law and enforcement

Similar clothing collection scams

Below is a list of some similar scams.  These also involve using the names of plausible-sounding but non-existent good causes :

Breakthrough Breast Cancer - a genuine charity whose bags were faked by "Clothman Ltd"

For details, see the A-Z List of clothing collectors page.

Photos

Below: a genuine charity air ambulance (Great Western Air Ambulance charity =GWAAC)  
Our thanks to the charity for the photo
 
Genuine air ambulance (courtesy of wikimedia.org)   

 

Below: a genuine charity air ambulance (Midlands Air Ambulance =MAA)    
 
Genuine air ambulance (courtesy of wikimedia.org)