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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 06:28 GMT
Ambulance charity scam exposed
Staffordshire Air Ambulance helicopter
The service needs to raise 2.5m each year
A scam that exploited people's willingness to help raise money for an air ambulance charity has been ended, trading standards officers say.

They seized hundreds of bags of clothes donated by people in Staffordshire during door-to-door collections organised by a private trader.

Trading standards officials said the goods were never destined for the county's air ambulance service, which does not collect from people's homes.

Staffordshire County Council said the trader concerned has been contacted and warned off.

Fundraiser Paul Weir
It is very upsetting to think that someone is using our legitimate needs as a way of lining their own pocket
Fundraiser Paul Weir

Thousands of leaflets have also been seized.

They read: "For every ton of clothing collected your local air ambulance will receive 100."

Graham Russell from Staffordshire Trading Standards said: "It's really nasty because people are very supportive of the air ambulance and there are genuine schemes where charities do collect clothing.

"Unfortunately, as far as we can tell, this isn't genuine anyway - they haven't got any reason for doing the collection - and they're just ripping people off.

"We find that very distressing."

Paul Weir, a fundraiser for Staffordshire's Air Ambulance, said: "This collection is nothing to do with us.

"It is very upsetting to think that someone is using our legitimate needs as a way of lining their own pocket.

"The air ambulance relies heavily on the generosity of local people in order to keep the helicopters running."

Genuine charities can recycle bags of clothing which are worth up to 10 to them.

The air ambulance needs 2.5m each year to keep flying and relies heavily on the efforts of fundraisers.

Toll's cash lift for ambulance
31 Dec 03  |  Staffordshire

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