Charity fraudster sold fake raffle tickets at Telford market
A fraudster has been found guilty of pretending to sell raffle tickets for charity at a market in Telford.
Sam Shallcross denied fraud by false representation but was found guilty at Telford Magistrates Court on Friday after failing to turn up for his trial.
The 28-year-old was spoken to by police at Wellington Market in July last year.
Mr Manjeet Bassi, prosecuting, said he was dressed in camouflage clothing and was carrying two money boxes.
He claimed to be from a promotions company and purported to be selling raffle tickets to raise money for the Once, we were Soldiers charity, which supports homeless veterans in the Midlands.
The court heard that Shallcross was unable to provide any identification and was arrested.
His money boxes, along with wristbands and £209.16 in cash was seized.
Giving evidence during the trial, Nicky Townsend, co-founder of the charity, told magistrates that anyone who goes out fundraising will be given a uniform and ID badge.
She said the charity had never been contacted by Shallcross, adding: "The first we heard of him was when we got an email from a lady in Crewe saying she had seen him in the town centre.
"The lady emailed us to say she purchased a raffle ticket."
Ms Townsend said the woman had complained about a spelling mistake on the raffle ticket, saying it was unprofessional.
She said the charity contacted police and Action Fraud and a short while later received another report about a man doing the same thing at Wellington Market.
Ms Townsend added: "People have donated money in good faith thinking that money is coming to our charity to support veterans.
"This puts people off when charities are trying to raise money and that's detrimental."
Closing his case, Mr Bassi said: "This is an offence which was premeditated.
"This was a defendant who was going to keep the funds for his own purposes.
"This is clearly fraud.
"It's a horrible offence because of the consequences. People wanting to donate to charity will be put off."
Shallcross, of Hartshill Road, Stoke-on-Trent, was convicted in his absence and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He is expected to be brought to Telford Magistrates Court at a later date to be sentenced.
Speaking after the case, founder and chairman of the Leicestershire-based charity Andy Spiers said: "We are over the moon that he has been found guilty. "It has been worrying us for ages.
"We felt physically sick when we found out about what he had been doing. Hopefully his sentence will be appropriate.
"Let this be a lesson to people who rip off charities – you will be caught at some point."
He also warned people to be vigilant when dealing with charity street collectors.
Mr Spiers added: "I don't want the public not to trust people but they should ask to see ID or contact the charity if they are unsure."
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